In the latest esports careers advice article from jobs site Hitmarker, they explain how you can make the leap from another industry into esports.
When people reach out to us about how to work in esports, they’re typically in one of two camps.
They’re either a high school or college student with a love for esports and a desire to work in it, or they’re an experienced professional that has built up significant experience outside of the industry, and are looking to move into it.
Unfortunately, there seems to be no advice out there for the latter. Well, no longer, we say!
As Hitmarker, the largest jobs website in gaming and esports, we speak to candidates and hiring managers every single day, and have answered the question of transitioning from another industry numerous times.
That’s also why we put together this article. You have plenty of experience outside of esports. So how do you translate that into something that will land you an interview?
Well, the answer is multi-faceted and can differ from person-to-person. So we’ve split this guide into two parts:
The first will focus on what you can do in your spare time to increase your chance of finding a job in the games industry. This may come as a surprise, but we’ve heard of many people finding jobs in the industry off the back of what they do outside of work.
The second will focus on your application documents — what you need to do to your CV and cover letter to impress a gaming hiring manager and show them you’d be a great addition to their company, regardless of your lack of direct professional experience.
So let’s get into it. What can you be doing outside of the job hunt that will help you move industries?
Utilising your spare time effectively
A hiring manager may favour someone with endemic experience because it shows that a) they understand the community, and b) they understand the processes followed in the gaming industry.
Let’s start with community. How can you demonstrate that you get the gaming scene?
A great place to start here is to have an active presence on social media. Now, this might sound like a strange thing to begin with, but the gaming industry lives on Twitter, and LinkedIn is always a solid platform to be found on professionally.
Do what you can to get your name out there on these platforms. Embed yourself within the gaming community, interact with posts and comments where you can add value (or praise), and begin to build your network.
We can’t tell you the number of people we’ve heard about finding jobs through social media, but it just keeps climbing higher and higher.
Another effective way to use social media is by creating your own content on there. It doesn’t have to be super professional; an article hosted on LinkedIn Pulse, or a video recorded with your laptop’s camera for Twitter, is as good a start as any.
For written content, you could weigh in on trending topics: analyzing the latest bit of industry news, or speaking about what could be done better in the gaming industry within your sector.
If the right people see it, you’ll not only be growing a relevant network, but also building a sort of ‘portfolio’ that shows you know what you’re talking about and are invested in the industry.
For video content, series such as weekly recaps, roster move discussions, and other regularly-uploaded pieces have all proved popular on LinkedIn. Similarly to written content, they’re a great way to get your name out there in a new sector while showing your knowledge as a professional.
And if you’re struggling for ideas, how about creating content on what it’s like to transition from one industry into the gaming and esports world? Genuine stories of struggle and eventual triumph always play well!
One of the barriers to entering a new industry is that you probably don’t have an established network in it. So how can you build one?
Well, the COVID pandemic has caused chaos around the world, and live events have been hit harder than most markets. This makes networking tough, but not impossible.
Companies have been quick to adapt their offerings to an online solution. Esports BAR, Esports Insider, Esports Biz Summit, Inven Global and The Esports Awards are all elite esports media/events companies that have run online networking events in 2020.
Attending these events can be great to begin building your portfolio in esports and making your presence known. You’ll be able to meet decision-makers, ask questions, and create long-lasting connections.
Just because we can’t meet in the flesh, doesn’t mean the industry isn’t staying connected.
That rounds up some of things you can be doing in your own time to break into esports.
We said there were two parts to this guide, so here comes the next one…
One of the toughest things about moving from one industry into gaming and esports is knowing how to approach your CV and cover letter.
Where junior candidates might struggle to fill a CV, you might have the opposite problem of having too much experience to present in a concise fashion!
So how much should you include? How do you show you’re interested in the industry and not just applying for the job randomly? These are both valid questions.
Let’s address the CV first and make it esports-ready!
One design point that we always suggest adding to anyone moving industries is a profile section. This is a small summary of who you are as a professional; what you’ve done, what you specialise in, and what you’re looking to do next.
In other words, it’s the perfect place to address your lack of endemic experience, as it’s likely the first thing the hiring manager will read.
Being transparent, and explaining in layman’s terms why you’re applying for jobs in gaming or esports, is the best way to go here. Talk about what you’ve done in past jobs, what skills this has equipped you with, and why that would make you excel in the video game industry.
We’ve written a short example below for how someone who used to be a Software Development Manager might approach a profile section on their CV.
I am an experienced software delivery manager looking to bring my project and people management skills to the gaming industry. I have previously guided multi-million pound projects to completion, on-time and within budget, which is a skill I know will be crucial in game production. As a lifelong gamer, nothing excites me more than helping produce the experiences that have entertained me for years.
Do you see how in three sentences we’ve introduced the core skills of our imaginary candidate, how these translate over to the job they’re applying to (in this case, game production), and sold their love for gaming?
This is what a profile section can do so strongly, and instantly transforms you from a candidate who has no mention of gaming on their CV, to someone who has clear intent to work in the industry.
Give that a go for yourself and try and place it at the top of your CV, so it’s the first thing a hiring manager sees.
Next, you want to consider your experience. The trick here is to re-write your experience section so any skills that would be required in a gaming job are brought to the forefront.
What kind of jobs are you applying for? Are they in game production, marketing, quality assurance or something else?
Head to our website and find some examples of these jobs to get started. They don’t have to be local to you; it’s just the job description we’re interested in.
Next, scan the responsibilities closely. Get a feel for what these jobs are asking candidates to do and pay extra close attention to the responsibilities outlined at the top of this section.
Then, scan the requirements. What skills does the company want from candidates? Do they want knowledge of certain project management systems, like scrum? If so, this is what you focus your experience section on. Again, the real value tends to be found near the top of this section.
Now it’s time to go back to your CV. Make sure the key requirements you found in those job descriptions are listed nice and high as skills/experiences you have for the hiring manager to see. As with the responsibilities and requirements sections in job descriptions, the higher these skills/experiences are on your document, the more importance is put upon them.
If you have scrum experience, tell them. If you have experience delivering technical projects, tell them. If you have experience in a coding language they’re looking for, tell them. You get the picture.
The key is to look for parallels between your past experience and what jobs in your desired sector ask for.
This goes beyond just software and processes. Have you worked in a fast-paced company before, for a start-up, or with an audience that demands authenticity? These are all common in esports and gaming!
You have to be incredibly efficient with the space on your CV when applying for jobs in a different industry. Give the hiring manager no excuse to close your document and move onto the next candidate. Keep them hooked.
Make each point relevant to the position you’re applying to, clearly express your career goals, and you’ll make a strong case for the hiring manager to move you to the next stage.
With all of that said, let’s move onto the cover letter!
As someone applying for jobs in the games industry without endemic experience, the cover letter is super important to get right.
It’s your big opportunity to say ‘Hey, I am qualified for this role and would be a great fit for your company,’ rather than risking the hiring manager tossing your application out because they’re critical of anyone without past gaming experience.
For that reason, we recommend a similar approach to your CV. Be direct. Be open. Be honest.
You should tell the hiring manager in the first paragraph why you’re looking to move industries. The best examples we’ve seen frame this change as a positive.
I’m applying for your Marketing Manager vacancy that I saw advertised on Hitmarker. Having worked in an agency for the last four years, I have significant creative marketing experience across a variety of mediums. Combined with years of being a gamer, I bring an authentic tone of voice to campaigns with the organisation and reporting you’d expect from someone used to managing six-figure budgets. I’m looking for a company where I can see the impact of my work more closely, and think (company name) is the perfect place.
Once more, we’ve focused on our imaginary candidate making an impression from the very first paragraph. In four sentences we’ve framed the lack of gaming experience as a good thing; in marketing, time spent at an agency is highly desirable, even if the agency doesn’t operate in our industry. The transferable skills and experiences will be apparent.
Not all professions will be able to follow this formula exactly. If that’s the case for you, think about what’s common in your niche and how that can be spun as a positive to a gaming hiring manager.
One thing esports is known for is being disorganised. Coming from another industry, bringing the knowledge of how a larger company operates efficiently could make you a very attractive hire indeed.
Moving on through the cover letter, you want to experience-match your skills to the job description.
By this, we mean if the job asks for somebody that can work in Kanban project management and manage deadlines, pull out a time from your career where you’ve done this. Even if it’s not in gaming, the skills used will be the same. That could look something like this…
Your next Production Manager needs to be fluent in Kanban and have experience meeting deadlines. That’s me all over. In my last role as a Software Delivery Manager at (company name), I managed a total of six major releases, all of which used Kanban to track the progress. I was responsible for setting up the workflow, tracking its progress, and responding to setbacks as they came up. This makes me the ideal candidate to bring your next game to market on-time, and at a high quality.
In this paragraph we’ve weaved an example of our candidate’s past job into the cover letter to make a really compelling case for why they’d be a fit for the role.
This way, rather than telling a hiring manager to take our word for it, we’re showing them that we can do what the job spec asks. And that, and the end of the day, is exactly what you want your cover letter to achieve.
Finally, you want your cover letter to show that you’re applying to this company for a reason.
Hiring managers receive a lot of applications that aren’t personalised, and therefore look like a copy and paste. There’s nothing there to tell them that the candidate specifically wants to work at their company. It’s bland. It’s generic. It’s an auto-reject.
You want to elevate yourself above all of the people who won’t take time to personalise their cover letter, so do your research and find something you can slot into your letter to impress the hiring manager.
Maybe they have an upcoming event that you’d like to work on. Maybe they develop a game you’ve played since childhood, and you have ideas of how to drive it forward. Or maybe they’ve just released an expansion that requires people with your skillset.
Whatever it is, dropping a well-placed bit of homework into your cover letter can show the company that you’re diligent, whilst adding a level of personalisation most applicants won’t have.
That rounds off our extensive guide on all things moving industry. We hope it’s made you feel more confident about finding your place in esports and gaming.
The key points to remember are to make it clear why you’re moving jobs, show that the experience you’ve built elsewhere will benefit the company you’re applying to, and show that you’re ‘not just another application’. If you do that, we expect you’ll land that job offer before long.
Thanks for reading, and be sure to check out Hitmarker.net for over 10,000 live gaming and esports jobs, as well as additional learning resources.
Good luck out there! And do check out our other guides for British Esports below.
The Hitmarker Team