eSports — An Under-the-Radar Social Media Community That Recruiters Should Use

The dream of every corporate recruiting leader is to discover a phenomenal secret source that few in recruiting are even aware of. That recruiting source would ideally be a social media community, so its members would be “social savvy.”

The new source would include millions of potential recruits, who are highly talented individuals who love technology. Members would ideally be highly competitive individuals, who can operate independently but also as team players. The source would, of course, be global and primarily digital. And it would provide features that recruiters can take advantage of including chat, user-originated content, online forums, live streaming video, and virtual and in-person events. And it would be even better if the community included ranked public lists of the most talented individuals in the community.

If you haven’t heard of it, the name of this community is “eSports” (short for electronic sports). And its focus is on playing in and watching electronic video game competitions. Now if you might be thinking that video games are insignificant, realize that more money will be spent on video games this year ($92 billion) than on music and movies combined (Stat trackers IHS). The latest estimate is that 71.5 million people watched competitive gaming in a single year. Participation in this community can be financially rewarding because the winning five-person team at a recent Dota 2 International Championship won a $6 million first prize.

If you grew up playing video games alone in your room on a console, realize that video gaming is now social and radically different. Game developers have recently added observing capabilities that allow non-players to watch as spectators. There are online competitions for individuals and teams, the largest competitions are televised on major networks or video stream, and lately arena-filling extravaganza competitions have become popular.

What Makes The eSports Community a Great Place to Recruit?

The reasons that this community is “target rich” for recruiters include:

  • Openness — Members of the community are unusually open to communications and direct contact.
  • Members are highly skilled — Community members are highly competitive, social media savvy, and they love technology. Winning video games requires speed, strategically planning ahead, the ability to work around obstacles, working well under pressure, and being adaptive and able to handle rapid change. Members who play on teams must be great team players, have strong communication skills, and be able to work together remotely.
  • Ideal for referrals — Many of your own firm’s employees are probably already involved in the eSport community, so they can use their existing contacts to make referrals almost immediately. Identifying referrals is relatively easy because the community is among the most social and well connected.
  • Face-to-face opportunities — In addition to virtual events, there are many physical events that your employees probably already attend (where they can make contacts and find referrals). These events range from LAN parties (spontaneous or planned parties where people gather to play networked multiplayer games) to mega-sized arena events.
  • Media opportunities — There are a multitude of media opportunities including magazines, TV shows, large websites like Major League Gaming, and streaming video platforms like Twitch (which has 100+ million unique viewers and 1.7+ million unique streaming broadcasters each month). Taken together, there are lots of opportunities for using employer brand advertising and native advertising.
  • A wide range of ages — The community covers all age groups from youth leagues to a significant number of college students. There are also many older players (the average age of a gamer is 35).
  • Data rich — Because it is a competitive environment, players are publicly rated and ranked. This makes it easy to find top talent.
  • Low recruiting competition — Few corporations use the community to recruit, so currently there is little competition or open resistance to contact by recruiters.

Action Steps For Corporate Recruiting Leaders

Begin by verifying my contention that this is an ideal recruiting opportunity by making a list of the elements of any social media community that makes it perfect for recruiting. Next survey some of your best technical employees and geeks to see if they are already active in this eSports community.

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Start your recruiting effort by slowly encouraging your already involved employees to identify and make employee referrals. Also, put together an advisory group of your eSports employees and use them to identify the best avenues in the community for employer brand advertising, job postings, native advertising, and physical events where sending recruiters make sense.

Consider holding a LAN gaming event on your site and recruiting during the event. And finally to ensure that eSports remains a quality source, put together metrics covering the quality of candidates and the quality of hires (on-the-job performance and retention rates) that come from eSports sources. And then over time use these results/metrics to continually improve your results. 

You May Even Find Some Great Recruiters In The Community

Because many of eSports competitions involve teams, great recruiting is essential in order to maintain a winning video game team. As a result, you will find that team managers in the community also excel at recruiting. Some teams hold tryouts or tournaments in order to identify talent, while the larger teams have talent scouts and their own “farm teams” (i.e. academies) for developing talent. The best recruits obviously need strong game playing skills but they also must have a great deal of stamina and the ability to innovate and rapidly learn new approaches to winning.

Final Thoughts

Once you look at all the factors that make this eSports community a great recruiting source, you may want to act quickly to get in early before the recruiting competition increases. You will find that recruiting in this community is fun, as well as rewarding. This means that it will eventually become a “go-to” source for your recruiters and for referrals.

Dr. John Sullivan, professor, author, corporate speaker, and advisor, is an internationally known HR thought-leader from the Silicon Valley who specializes in providing bold and high-business-impact talent management solutions.

He’s a prolific author with over 900 articles and 10 books covering all areas of talent management. He has written over a dozen white papers, conducted over 50 webinars, dozens of workshops, and he has been featured in over 35 videos. He is an engaging corporate speaker who has excited audiences at over 300 corporations/ organizations in 30 countries on all six continents. His ideas have appeared in every major business source including the Wall Street Journal, Fortune, BusinessWeek, Fast Company, CFO, Inc., NY Times, SmartMoney, USA Today, HBR, and the Financial Times. In addition, he writes for the WSJ Experts column. He has been interviewed on CNN and the CBS and ABC nightly news, NPR, as well many local TV and radio outlets. Fast Company called him the "Michael Jordan of Hiring," called him “the father of HR metrics,” and SHRM called him “One of the industry's most respected strategists." He was selected among HR’s “Top 10 Leading Thinkers” and he was ranked No. 8 among the top 25 online influencers in talent management. He served as the Chief Talent Officer of Agilent Technologies, the HP spinoff with 43,000 employees, and he was the CEO of the Business Development Center, a minority business consulting firm in Bakersfield, California. He is currently a Professor of Management at San Francisco State (1982 – present). His articles can be found all over the Internet and on his popular website and on He lives in Pacifica, California.



4 Comments on “eSports — An Under-the-Radar Social Media Community That Recruiters Should Use

  1. I see eSports being HUGE for tech talent…and hard to penetrate as a “recruiter”..but so worth the effort. I bet gaming companies are the only ones currently trying it…I hope I’m wrong.

    Great article..the first one I’ve seen in the recruiting industry. I think VICE on youtube did a segment on e-sports..very interesting. I think Korea is the place to be for it right now.

    As a whole, it will be interesting to see how the gamer generation transitions into the workforce outside of the gaming industry. Like my 10 year old tells me when I talk to him about building his own games, “I just like to play them right now, Daddy.”

    Regarding David Lee’s comment about the Army recruiting from it…I hope Mom’s don’t see that…”I told you those games teach boys to be killers!”

  2. If I don’t get blocked from a comment post again, Ill continue telling what I know on disqus. But if I get blocked one more time, sum1 getting booted big time. 🙂 *ok now that that covered I got a big ???

    Why would anyone want to join Esports community? Sorry but it gave me a big chuckle, I played video games and played actual sports.
    I guess Im too caveman or something. But seriously I wish i could get it.
    But Im a savvy Business Admin major so your post(or the few paragraphs that i saw were true) and that is a valid point for business.
    But what made me sought more info at large is(And you peeps might wanna take notice on this)..
    Was the Blizzard SC2 ad in bnet launcher labeled “Join the esports community?” and it made me lol really.
    But maybe for your avid esports community dreamer hopeful there’s a way….Buy SC2 maybe you find that useful and I may buy the 3rd expac….but not to be a part of the esports community.(Cuz i don’t get that. Or get why I should join).
    Anyways come on and post on my ignorance if you want. Be a treat.
    Douglas Felts.(aka Korruption)

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