Miri’s Thoughts on Guilds – Recruitment
Like my previous post, Miri’s Thoughts on Guilds, this will be another running stream of consciousness about guild management, leadership, and development. None of this is ground-breaking (at least I hope it’s not), but what I think is “normal” has proven to be abstract to someone else. So, enjoy! ~Miri
Recruitment is a hot topic right now if you check on the forums. Like the end of every expansion, players are hitting burn out and stepping away, using the time between the final content patch (Blizzard has already announced that Dragon Soul is the last raid) and Mists of Pandaria to recharge. It’s a stressful time for guilds when they have to deal with a fluctuation of membership, especially so late in the game; during which they hope they can locate quality members to add to their teams. But how do you make your guild stand out above the rest for potential applicants?
Miri on Guild Recruitment
Recruitment isn’t easy. It can be a long (and arduous) process, truly dependent on how your Recruitment Officer handles things. There could be lengthy applications, interviews over a voice chat, possibly even cross realm grouping to see how well the player performs. It could take 24 hours, it could take 2 weeks. Either way, it needs to be a clearly explained process for any potential applicant. In the past I noted that a guild officer would respond within 48 hours to an application and that we would state then if we wanted to proceed further with the application process or if we chose to thank them for their interest but state our reason(s) for not continuing with them.
It’s not just hard on a guild looking for new players, it’s also hard on the applicants. Depending on the guild, you may have to defend your spec, your gemming, your enchanting, your reforging. You may have to explain your professions and your willingness (or lack thereof) to change them. You may have to explain boss fights and your role in them.
For many people, something has pushed them to change things. Maybe they want to progress faster than they currently are, maybe they want to see what a raid is like. Maybe there’s a personality clash or a time zone difference. But no matter what, you have to leave a comfort zone and venture into the great beyond.
I was recruited into my Wrath guild from a Trade channel conversation. When I look back on the entire chain of events, it was rather amusing. I was leveling fishing in Orgrimmar and was being sassy in Trade. It caught the eye of one of the guild’s officers and we struck up a conversation in whispers. It was a great talk and he told me they were looking for a healer and asked if I’d be interested in applying and checking out the guild via some heroics. I agreed and spent all of T7 with them. My guilds for T8 and T10 were me joining up with real life friends for short periods of time before I settled back on my “home” realm and had relaxed fun in PuGs.
Cataclysm saw me join a friend from Twitter towards the end of T11. I remained with them through almost all of T12, only moving on due to time zones killing my sleep patterns. I moved on to another guild that fit my time zone requirements perfectly, and joined a group of people that I knew via Twitter and real life.
Each time I made a move, I had to learn new personalities, I had to get to know new people. I had to learn who was the guild gossip, the guild drunk, the guild freak. Some people are afraid of interacting with strangers and it keeps them in a situation they are unhappy with, or it keeps them from joining a guild at all. Sometimes they they think they’ve found a good place, but later discover it’s not as they get to know the guild’s members.
One of the things I like is on our “About” page for my current guild: not only does it talk about some of the guild’s past achievements, but it speaks to some of the guild personalities. I kept a running “Introduce Yourself” thread on my guild forums where people could post a picture (if they so chose–and surprisingly, I think everyone did!) and talk about their hobbies outside of WoW. Making a thread like that public (viewable only, no posting) to non-members gives them a chance to discover if it’s a guild full of hash smokers or alcoholics or if it’s players who are just enjoying the game and all it’s offerings.
The ability to do cross realm grouping with RealID and the future implementation of BattleTags will make engaging with potential applicants even easier. Not only can you now group with an applicant cross-realm (thus saving them the transfer fee and discovering they hate you, your guild, or your realm), invite them into voice chat, and allow them to truly experience some of the guild in their natural element. Recruitment no longer needs to be a “blind” process in which you hope you got lucky and that the good experiences will outweigh the bad.
It sounds corny, but a guild is a home to me. And I’d prefer to stay there as long as I possibly can.
Why Guilds Recruit
I previously wrote that a guild is like a business, and that a successful guild will operate as such. Every business needs employees to operate. They may be your managers, they may stock the shelves or greet the customers. The employees each fulfill a specific role for the team.
A guild may recruit for their rated BGs team, or their raid group, or maybe just social members. Some guilds prefer to remain small and their recruitment list shows that. A guild may only recruit for their PvE or PvP related aspects. Other guilds may like to have a large roster and will look for people who are interested in socializing in addition to the PvE and PvP play styles. It is truly dependent on the whims of the GM and the guild’s officers to shape the direction that the guild goes.
In the Burning Crusade, a player would join a guild because it was a means of getting into raids, getting regular groups for heroics, and to avoid some of the crafting fees. This is in addition to being able to play with people who you (hopefully) enjoyed playing with. In Wrath, players joined guilds for many of the same reasons, but as the expansion progressed, guilds became less necessary as the content became more and more pugged. In fact, I pugged both of my Lich King kills via Trade because my tiny little guild didn’t have enough geared players to do our own raids.
Cataclysm saw a re-emergence of guild growth, but probably for the wrong reasons. It was even commented about last night while I was running heroics with a player from another guild on realm. Players join guilds now for their perks. I mean, who doesn’t want to run back faster from a wipe? Or have reduced repair fees? The ability to mass rez your group in a Heroic, or summon a friend to you for questing? Being a level 25 guild early on in Cataclysm had huge perks–some guilds were even taking any player who wanted to leech perks as long as they were helping the guild push to level 25. Some guilds stuck to their guns and the guild leveled via the guild roster–and whenever they hit 25, they were good with it.
In some ways, a level 25 guild is a perk that can be used to draw players in via various recruitment methods, in others, it’s a crutch that inhibits guild growth.
Using Perks to Drive Recruitment
In between trash pack pulls in Well of Eternity, I learned a bit about the player we had pulled in to help us cap the weekly guild heroics.
Our healer commented that he had never seen her guild tag before and she stated that they were a new guild with a small roster. We asked what the guild’s goals were and she informed us that at some point, they hoped to raid. She continued the discussion by sharing that it was really hard to recruit to fill out their roster–simply because of their guild level.
The leveling of guilds, while a great concept to unlock perks, makes it hard for any group who reforms (or forms) to get traction in the server community. People don’t want to have to re-level a guild. People want to join and have the guild be level 25 already. I cringe at thinking about ever losing my level 25 perks. It makes leveling a crafter (or a gatherer) even more painful. It’s not that I’m lazy, it’s just that I prefer the quality of life benefits that a level 25 guild offers.
There was one night, months ago, that I sat in voice chat with friends and we were discussing recruitment. And a question was posed that has stuck with me since that night. It had such an impact on me that it was the basis for this post.
What perks do we have to offer to a potential recruit?
It is a simple, yet honest, question. Guilds sometimes lock themselves into the mindset of “well, I recruited you and gave you a slot on my Rated BGs/Raid/Arena team. That’s all you need.” But people who are looking for guilds are looking for more than that. They may or may not admit it, but they want to know what guilds can offer them besides a slot on a team.
Here’s where we go back to the discussion of a guild being a business. When I was getting ready to graduate from college, I began job hunting in earnest. I knew the mindset that I wanted my employer to have (work hard, play hard), but I didn’t want to find a job where there weren’t “perks.” Perks in the business world could be a lot of things: 401(k), health care, dental, and even child care. It could be a large amount of vacation time, it could be a Starbucks in your building lobby. It could be a company car or “Beer and Cookies Fridays.” Business perks can be all the things listed in the benefits package, but they can also be things that define the culture of the company you work for.
My previous employer had a great cafeteria that I could grab breakfast from in the mornings. There was a 1st class gym in our basement that I could use free of charge. We could have our laundry picked up and delivered to one of our campuses. We could have our oil changed and cars detailed while we worked. Once a month our VPs hosted a party on the front lawn with beer, wine, and a ton of food and music.
Those “perks” were in addition to a great health care plan, vacation packages, and the ability to have a flexible work schedule. The perks were great and even though I’ve moved on, I’ve had nice things to say about my previous place of employment.
Let’s be honest, the perks and the culture (that’s another post for another time) of the guild are what will attract players. As I looked at the Guild Recruitment forums earlier this week, I saw some great examples of guilds listing their “benefits” to try and woo players into applying to their ranks.
Some things I saw:
- “Core” raid slots – this is usually a big deal for raiders who don’t want to have to have a raid team rotation
- Guild Repairs
- Flasks for raids
- Gemming (gems and cuts)
- Enchanting (mats)
Core raid slots, flasks and feasts are usually more raid specific than anything. If you were a PvPer looking for a guild, having repairs or the guild providing the gems and enchants you need for your newest piece of Conquest gear is a pretty nice deal. The list above was compiled from raiding guilds recruiting and it addresses basically anything a raider could need! The only thing that a player would be expected to do with these perks is 1/ know how to play their class and 2/ research the boss fights. The farming, the AH fees, the general “cost” of raiding has been absorbed by the guild, leaving the potential recruit the ability to spend their personal gold as they see fit.
Using Activities to Drive Recruitment
Activities show that the guild is active in other avenues and is a great way to engage players outside of the typical raid (or PvP) setting.
If your guild is primarily PvE based yet members have shown an interest in trying out PvP, schedule a fun PvP night weekly for players to get together and learn how to play each BG in a low stress environment. If your roster boasts some strong PvPers, see if they are willing to coordinate the teams and be a teacher–when you fight in mid, what the objectives are of the battle, etc. It’s supposed to be fun and a good team-building exercise, so the coordinators shouldn’t be prone to fits if a loss happens or something goes wrong. PvP is also great for raid teams to learn to work with limited communication while working with a team of 1-2 people while holding an objective.
Another idea could be an alt night. It could be for any level of alts, but members could help with dungeon boosting or crafting (I’m sure if I had a big and brawny level 85 out killing mobs for me to skin, I’d never fear leveling Leatherworking again!). Each week the “host” changes, so they can get time to get assistance with their alt(s).
I’ve seen groups who do “old school” raid nights. Whether it be for Transmog runs or achievements, assembling a team of willing guildies to go and run old content can be fun for everyone. It could be vanilla raids, or even TK for a chance at the Ashes of Al’ar. It could even be more current content, like T11 or T12 where people want to finish up achievements.
I often see people looking for a player to group up with for “2s for points.” What if you could keep that within your guild? Some players don’t care what their Arena ranking is, but they would like to be able to pick up new PvP gear. Maybe there’s a set night each week that people who want to try and cap their Conquest can sign on and teams are divvied up to get their points.
An interesting thing I saw done in Wrath was “physical” guild meetings in game. My guild meetings in BC were done over Ventrilo, but a social guild that I joined picked a spot each month to meet in the WoW universe. The “meeting” was conducted in both a raid group and in Vent, and throughout the discussion there were door prizes. The prizes were donated by officers and the “leads” of the various groups that made up the guild. A bit of backstory here: there was a small RP aspect to the guild and members were “assigned” to one of four houses, a la Harry Potter. Each “house” had a leader who a player could go to with their problems or questions. The leader may or may not be an officer, but it was someone who was aware of guild policy and was respected by the members. The night that I was “announced” to my house, my leader told me to pick one “wish” I would like granted by the guild. It could be an epic BoE crafted or purchased, it could be help leveling a profession or even my character! The prizes were 22-slot bags (pretty pricey in Wrath!), rare pets, and even 1K gold! It was a fun way to engage new (and old) members in the guild!
These are things that can be driven at the officer level, or can be handed off to other members of the guild who are interested in playing an active role that benefits many. They can be advertised on the guild website, put on the guild calendar, and should definitely be included in a recruitment post! Let people know that your guild does more than raid or PvP! Let them know that there are reasons to sign on outside of a raid or a rated BG. By having events to keep the guild active, more players on your server will see your guild tag actively, see more people on when they do a /who, and may be interested in joining your fun!
An active guild is usually a happy guild. The more people who are on at any given time means that more people are seeing your guild tag on realm. An active guild website/forums shows an applicant that there is stuff regularly happening within the guild. Activities mean that there’s a reason to get involved. Perks show that the officers are interested in supporting and retaining their member base.
Our first impressions usually come from looking–a concise yet interesting recruitment post, a polished and organized website containing application forms relevant to the content and an explanation of guild policies.
Let applicants get into voice chat and into runs with members they would regularly be interacting with. Allow those moments to be unfiltered so that an applicant and get to truly experience the people that they are going to be PvPing or raiding with. Let them truly get to know the guild and it’s regular players so they can determine if they are making the right choice–and so your guild can decide as well.
Keep your guild recruitment activities up-to-date for your members–they may know of people who can fill slots that you have open! Keep them involved in the recruitment process! One of the best changes I ever made was dropping the officer control on my guild recruitment in BC. The officers and I agreed that we shouldn’t be the only ones making the calls about applicants, though our decision was the final one. We allowed our members to review applications, pose questions and feedback (examples of “Oh, you were the person that trade blew up because you ninja’d a ton of stuff from your guild bank and sold it on the AH” was a legitimate response) about the player. Officers are unable to be all-seeing, no matter how many times we tried to be–so utilize your membership to help fill you in!
Hopefully some of these observations will help guilds grow and enable people looking for new guilds to ask questions that may have never sprung to mind in their application process! Best of luck to everyone recruiting for the end of Cataclysm and the launch of Mists!