Why we allow unpaid job listings on Esports Career

In the past days, I’ve frequently come across arguments which sound something like this: “You can’t build a real company on volunteers!” Some were even addressing Esports Career and our job board directly stating: “It’s just not a website I can take seriously… Every major trusted job site would never allow voluntary positions to be posted because those aren’t jobs.” And as far as I have to agree that the esports industry is in desperate need of more paid positions, ultimately, we can’t narrow the current job market down to the discussion about salaries.

Esports as an industry has come a long way, yet has just left its infancy. It already poses a great opportunity for professionals, entrepreneurs and other market participants—Big money has been trickling in slowly over the last decade, with no signs of stopping. In the last two years, we’ve seen extraordinary media attention, marketing actions and venture capital investments. The industry is hyped up, as new jaw-dropping headlines come thick and fast. Despite all this, it is time to take a deep breath and realize that we are still a long way off from what can be called a self-supporting industry.

Don’t believe the hype—at least, don’t let if affect your career decisions

It is easy to be wowed by tens of millions of viewers, global sponsorships from AAA brands, merchandising, public viewing, filling stadiums and prize money beyond millions. But don’t forget to take a look at what is still missing to a large extent: institutionalization and organizational structure, as well as small and medium-sized businesses solely focused on esports. Slowly but surely, we see the rise of talent agencies, law firms, job boards and the like coming into the market. But for now, esports has a long way to go before being fully established as a self-sustaining industry.

Those small and medium-sized companies are entering esports organically. Parallel to the development of the games—which were almost forced into esports by the relentless passion of gamers and fans—the business of esports is driven by (initially unpaid) entrepreneurial spirit and visionary leadership. And as you won’t find many pro-gamers who started their career with a ten-thousand dollar contract, you most certainly won’t find many entrepreneurs starting a business that paid off right from the start.

From rags to riches

Let’s face the facts and realize that we have to give esports a spot before we expect to make any money out of it, even if that sometimes means working voluntarily. The typical career in esports was (and will be for a while longer) a path of self-exploitation to a certain degree. Remind yourself that you are not forced to work for free, look at it as an opportunity if nothing else.

Education in the esports sectors is not widespread enough and there is no real scholastic profession dedicated purely to esports. That’s why you should always aim for an education that is applicable in traditional industries too—give yourself options for if your esports dreams don’t work out.

We started as volunteers ourselves and it was worth it

We at Esports Career started working in esports out of passion. When Lars founded the job board, he had recognized a niche and was willing to put his free time and effort into it. If he did see any possibility of it paying off, he knew it would be very long-term. We were lucky enough to get the attention of some esports veterans who were willing to support our idea. Now that we have a financial backing and are able to pay a small staff, we can say that it was worth it.

These job listings we provide, paid or unpaid, are your access points to the world of esports. We will not shut the door on any position simply due to the financial status of the organization. Of course, if a company is obviously able to pay fair salaries, it is important to value yourself enough to ask for one.

What we will do instead is to support the claim of more professionalism, more paid positions and better standards. That’s why we urge you to demand at least a testimonial if you work voluntarily. In turn, we’ll give you the opportunity to present yourselves with your resume, your experience, and your talent. Don’t distract yourself by people who banter about “please work for hopes and dreams” bullshit. If you want to achieve something in the esports industry, you have to take your chances and get rid of the “What’s in it for me?“ mentality.