Mages, ten-man raiding, and other things that are awesome.

Cataclysm Recruitment

I’ve been the ‘recruitment officer’ in some capacity for my guild for almost as long as I’ve been in the guild. To be fair, this means something different in a ten-man group than it does for a big twenty-fives guild. We don’t need to recruit constantly or usually more than one person at a time. Because of our niche, recruitment has always been interesting. In some ways, it was harder because the vast majority of folks were looking for a “real” raiding guild (i.e. not tens). In other ways it was easier because there were very few tens-only guilds to serve the needs of those who were seeking them specifically.

More often than not a year ago I would have to approach people who hadn’t indicated a preference for twenty-fives, on the off chance that they were open to either raid size. Sometimes this worked and we gained an excellent guild-member because of it. Other times the person would scramble to specify, “I meant twenty-fives!”

The balance of power has shifted in the recruitment forums. An explosion of ten-man guilds scramble alongside twenty-fives to try and fill their rosters at all levels of progression. The way that guilds snap at the heels of any prospective applicant is a pretty strong indicator that it’s a buyer’s market out there. Happily, the number of people looking for a tens guild is about evenly matched with those seeking a twenty-fives guild. This is good for us. Unhappily, hardly anyone is viewing my ads.

Forum Organization

Since Battle.net was integrated with the official Warcraft site, the forums have also changed. A change I’m really not happy about is the way that the guild recruitment forum was rolled into one biiiiig forum. It used to be that there was some division between Horde and Alliance forum. I can see why they did away with this – after all, since faction transfers exist there are many people willing to switch sides for their guild of choice. It’s okay to me that Alliance and Horde posts are mixed together, but I still think this forum needs vast improvement.

Despite there being many other sites that have tried to fill the recruitment niche, none of them have ever really been as useful as the official forums. It’s a simple numbers game – if 80% of the population doesn’t know about or use your tool, then it’s not even worth the time it takes to register on the site. People ARE using the recruitment forums, but they’re a big mess.

I propose that the forums ought to be divided into at least two sections – one for people seeking a guild, and one for guilds seeking people. I wonder if they haven’t done this because it would reduce visibility for guilds advertising? I’d accept that sacrifice in exchange for an easy way to browse through the ads of individuals rather than the hundreds of other guilds I don’t care about. There are external sites that work to alleviate this problem, which is kind of telling. If you need another website to navigate your forums, it’s possible your forums could use some tweaking. They could even sub-divide the forums: one subforum for 25s raiding and one for 10s, and maybe one for PvP/Other (although I’m pretty sure most RP folks aren’t using the official forums for the majority of their recruitment. An RP guild would have better luck on the ‘realm’ forums).

The Many and The Few

The other obstacle facing recruiting guilds right now is a simple matter of supply and demand. So many new guilds sprang up for Cataclysm that competition for available players is fierce. I’ll be honest with you, I’ve been browsing the recruitment forums for over a year and I’ve never seen it quite like this. If you aren’t one of the first people to reply to someone’s ad, chances are that your interest will simply get buried in the deluge of ad spam that follows.

It’s great for the people looking for a guild! There’s never been a better time to locate a guild that matches every criteria you have – server type, raid type, size and attitude. The flip-side of that is that it’s a difficult time to be a guild seeking personnel. As a guild leader or recruitment officer, you need to think about what makes your guild so different than the others also trying to attract a person’s attention. Are you more progressed, do you have better times for them? You know your guild is awesome, but you have to convince this person of that enough that they will apply. This also brings up the issue of quality. I’ve seen applicants advertising themselves that have, let’s say, 9/12 experience (with normal mode encounters). Which is fine! I’m not judging. But this same applicant will advertise that their guild of choice must have “at least” 6/13 hard-modes down. I can understand wanting to find a guild a bit more progressed than you are, especially if you are at a progression block in your current guild. You want to know that the guild you’re joining is pushing the content you want. But I can tell you now, if you personally have only done 9/12, there’s no way you are geared enough for doing the later hard-modes, at least in a ten-man guild. You would be a liability to that team until they were able to gear you further, and also until you actually learned the encounters. But these people will inevitably find a guild with that kind of progression, because that’s the way recruitment is right now. This is still a bit of a red flag for me, though – I wouldn’t want someone making those kinds of demands to join my guild. I’m pretty sure our attitudes towards perseverance and progression wouldn’t match up. It’s not that I wouldn’t recruit someone who hasn’t done any hard-modes, I might consider it if the personality and attitude were a match. Encounters can be learned. But in that case you are the one that has to impress me, not the other way around!

Something Wicked This Way

I can’t write a post about recruitment without mentioning another trend that’s really been disturbing me. It seems to be completely acceptable now as someone seeking a guild to post your Real ID e-mail address in your recruitment ad. I’ve seen folks casually say more often than not, “Here’s my Real ID contact information, so message me this way.”

First of all, are these people crazy? Posting up your Real ID in a public forum is just begging to be hacked. Hackers know it’s the same e-mail address you use to login to Battle.net in the first place, and you’ve just given them a key piece of information. So there’s the fact that it’s a security risk. Secondly, Real ID is intended to be a method of contact between real-life friends. It uses your actual name, unless you used a pseudonym when you first registered for Battle.net (You can’t change your name in the system without phoning a customer service rep, I looked into it). So you’re giving complete strangers access to your account e-mail and your real name without a second thought.

I’ve seen recruiters that also include their Real ID information along with, “Here’s how you can get in touch with me.” Well, this is a fine pickle. I’ve actually been frustrated to see that potential applicants are having conversations via Real ID before anyone has even posted a “reply” to their ad. The advent of Real ID being used this way might mean that I miss out on potential applicants to my guild – and so be it, because I am not going to be giving out my first and last name to a complete stranger just so that I can ask them some questions about their tanking spec.

In-Game Guild Finder

This is the newest development in the guild-seeking and finding scene: the in-game guild finder! Scott Andrews over at WoW Insider wrote an article for GLs about how to set your guild up to find applicants this way. This is what the interface looks like:

The description section has a harsh character limit. Hence, I could not put a period at the end of that last sentence, or use the entire word "apply."

That’s what ours looks like. Any requests your guild receives show up in the “Requests” tab where an applicant is also given space to send a message (although you can send a request without any message at all). So what do I think of the new tool? Well, any tool designed to bring a guild to the attention of prospective applicants is a good one. We’ve had a number of “requests” this way, but none of those people have actually joined the guild. There’s actually an “invite” button on the tab, and maybe some guilds would be happy to invite a member just on the basis of three sentences, but we’re not going to be changing our outlook on that anytime soon. People still have to go to our website to fill out a “real” application, and so this tool is an intermediary at best. Still, it increases visibility and might sometime gain us the right applicant so I don’t mind it. I hope they refine some things such as the “availability” section. Plenty of people are available on “weekdays,” but are those weekdays the days my guild is actually raiding?

Hanging In There

Having said all of the above, though, all of our recent recruitment has been quite successful. When we needed a new tank we had to look at an unprecedented five(!) quality applications, and it wasn’t an easy decision. We found our holy paladin healer back in February reasonably easily (and I don’t think it was my clever ad that attracted him either, more’s the pity). Recently we had our fury warrior swap to healing and subsequently recruited a friend of an existing guild member to fill the slot. This is naturally the ideal – never having to resort to “cold” methods of recruitment at all. If you can find quality people via word of mouth or existing contacts you are reasonably assured that the applicant will be a good fit for your guild at least in personality, and you also have someone to vouch ahead of time for their quality of play.

As it happens, BT is still recruiting for two members at the moment. We’re looking for ideally a moonkin and an excellent healer; either paladin, priest, or restoration shaman. If you want to read more about the specifics you can do so on our recruitment ad or our website. I’m also happy to answer any questions here. (Hey, it’s my blog, a little advertising never hurt anyone!)

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Comments on: "Cataclysm Recruitment" (26)

  1. I’m sure we can get “apply.” in there. :-)

    Change PST to PT, unless you’re actually raiding on pacific standard time. There’s the period!

    Change Thus to Th, there’s “ly”!

    Twitter instincts to the rescue! :-)

    • Hahah Cyn. I’ll look into your suggested changes, and I bow to your Twitter-fu. ;p

      • Don’t forget the magic of AMPERSANDS!

      • Little-known Vid fact: Ampersands bug me! I don’t know why! I mean I like the way they look in say… a logo or something. But “Something something & something?” You’ll pretty much never see me say it! (Now someone is going to go through my blog with a fine-toothed comb to prove me wrong…)

        HOWEVER. I will take your ampersand advice and likely apply it to the blurb!

      • You could always use + as well, though maybe that bugs you even more? “a healer + a boomkin” etc.

    • Or even simpler, change it to “clear all Hard Mode content”, which implies clearing the content on regular first.

      You could also go with “10s guild” rather than “tens only guild”. :D

  2. Just finding people who share your guild’s philosophy and fit into your overall personality matrix (it’s Friday and I can make up psychobabble if I want!) is a serious challenge I’m starting to grow weary of. I don’t belong to/lead/recruit for a raiding guild, but then having to evaluate someone’s character and someone’s ability just seems absolutely daunting. Kudos to you for not burning out on it.

    • Thanks Stormy. It’s actually funny, there are really only two things that are hard for me with regards to recruiting:

      1) The waiting. I’m not very patient. I reply to people’s ads, I bump our ads, I spam Twitter, and all the time I’m keeping one eye on our Applications forum just waiting for the icon to light up. It’s like waiting by the phone for someone to call and they don’t. I hate that.

      2) Saying no. Sometimes people are perfectly nice but they just don’t fit with the guild, or their gear or experience isn’t there, and having to say no is one of the toughest things for me. I have to force myself to do it. I mean, I know I have to do it, but I usually type the forum message as quickly as I can and I even look away when I post it. I have to do it quick, like a band-aid. It’s certainly not something I enjoy.

      The easy part (for me) is deciding and evaluating someone to see if they are a good fit once they’ve applied. I tend to listen to interviews carefully for tone of voice, what people say, what they don’t say, what their attitude is like. Some things are red flags like people talking about things that make them angry (especially if we didn’t ask) or who can’t answer a question on the fly. We’re looking for people who are adaptive, easy-going, team-oriented and knowledgeable. When you know what you’re looking for it becomes easy to recognize! I also don’t think I could do the recruitment constantly or it would get pretty wearing. Not only is it time-consuming, but every new person means a shift in the team – someone to get to know and who has to learn how things go, so too much turnover can lead to raiding setbacks. :(

      • As someone who got a ‘no’ response from Vid, I do have to say that for someone who hates giving those ‘DECLINED’ responses, you do it knowing that it’s another person on the other side. Too often, I’ve seen other guilds not even respond to a declined app for months, leaving that person in limbo the entire time. I think you and the rest of your comrades at Business Time did it right. You did it quickly and cordially (I think I got my notice like 2 hours after my interview). That is something that is to be definitely commended. /salute

      • I hated doing it, because I liked you, too. :( I think we would have gotten along! I hope you’ve found an awesome guild since, truly. (I also secretly think you should continue to be a MAGE, but obviously I have a strong bias).

      • It’s nice to see that I made a good impression =). Although I didn’t make it in your guild, there’s no need to worry, I’m still a reader of your blog and will be until you shut the doors. As far as the guild search goes, I just found a spot in a small guild on my server yesterday. It’s not Business Time in terms of progression, but these people seem pretty cool. You should also know that I’m going in as a MAGE haha. Though I do have to say that if I see that you need another tank, you’ll be hearing from me again. Hopefully, by then I’ll have some more boss kills under my belt =)

  3. Great post! Like I’ve mentioned on twitter, I’m an officer in my guild and @deusexvirtuelle and I handle the recruitment. Here are a few of my pet peeves/observations:

    Horrid trolls that repot your innocuous recruitment posts. I can’t begin to count how many times our posts have been reported for apparently ‘inappropriate content’ (since Ulduar) or said we’ve been ‘spamming’ for updating every 3-4 days with changing recruitment needs. Meanwhile people bump 24/7 and have no repercussions. Fortunately due to my involvement at wowhead, I can ensure my guild gets decent publicity between the green text and guild feature on the news page, but it’s somewhat sickening that this type of long-term forum harassment exists. I’ve spoken to people in other guilds and generally when a ‘rival’ guild tries to make a progression push, they’ve noticed more forum bans.

    As a result of not being able to really use the forums, we’ve had to make more of an effort to track down people from wowlemmings. Generally, I find the same cluster of recruitment officers all over apps, so we had to make sure our message stood out. I would also make lvl 1s to send mail in game as a follow-up. I’ve had a mixed bag (I mean, if the same people are posting on tons of apps…they must not be *too* successful filling spots) and generally have come across the ‘9/12 need 6/13′ types which imply to me that they’ll jump ship as soon as the going gets tough. I find that these people are also clueless about raiding etiquette–they whisper you during a raid, want an answer within 24 hours, or worse, spam you on Real ID. I signed up for battle.net with a nickname so I’m untraceable…but it gets draining when someone with hardly any xp tries to spam you during Heroic Chogall about needing an interview NAO, apologizes for disrupting raid and continues to spam, and then 3 hours later says that a better guild has taken him, yay perfect fit sparklebunnies, so they won’t bother interviewing. Because I like internet sleuthing, I’ve kept tabs on a few of those people…surprise, it didn’t work out.

    When we needed to recruit people after the spring shuffle, we had the most success asking raiders to help out–seeing if there were any friends or raiders from their former guilds interested. I would rather have someone that stayed in a dying guild out of loyalty, over a fresh ‘raider’ with 0 xp and a huge attitude that’s advertising on every venue. This also helped spread out the burden of needing to initiate contact with every possible recruit in creation. We still require vent interviews and a written app, but it’s surprising how many people will just whisper you, ask if you can hop on vent right. now., or say that they’ve spoken to you in game so that counts, right? I’m not going to compromise recruitment standards to allow someone impatient in, because if they can’t do a simple recruitment process that takes several days, they’ll explode learning a boss that takes several weeks to learn.

    We also edited our recruitment thread somewhat to focus more on our unique qualities, as due to a wave of nerfs, more guilds caught up to our progression. The recruits from the forum that have joined recently have said that our blurb stood out because they got an honest sense of our environment and that it looked like real people wrote it, instead of the same old generic guild descriptions. When talking about the guild, we don’t try to be like ‘US Top 10!!!!! on ICC gunship and Ignis’ (yes. I have seen that) but instead talk about how we got everyone in the guild a Mimiron’s Head, how we’ve been a top guild on the server since Molten Core, etc. We try to emphasize things like fit/stability and while that may deter some apps, if we had misrepresented ourselves initially…they would have been unhappy as trials and eventually left.

    Anyway, I wish you the best of luck recruiting :) Hang in there and we need more posts like this for people to appreciate how chaotic it can be.

    • Wow, that’s pretty interesting. We have fortunately not had any trouble with the “reported for spam” type things – I doubt our guild is anywhere near as high-profile as yours and we are also much smaller. Our server population is only med-low and most guilds either don’t have a lot of contact with each other or are friendly. I have been taking the “no bumping” rule seriously and actually carrying on a semi-conversation in our thread, though, just to be on the safe side.

      People without any grasp of contact etiquette drive me batty. Inevitably they whisper our other mage, I think because his name is the shortest (this is my theory). He got a whisper last night as we were about to pull H Maloriak. I told him, “Just tell them you are IN A RAID.” I mean, if you can’t /who someone’s name and see the zone they are in and understand it means “do not disturb,” then you don’t have much grasp of what a raiding guild is. I also get many folks who want to whisper or in-game message and talk for a long time before applying. Which can be okay or not okay, really, although it seems inevitably the questions are the same ones on our application in any case. That could just be a “want to get a feel for what the people behind this thing are like,” though, so I guess I can’t fault them there. (But again, major demerits of this happens smack in the middle of a raid).

      • Another tip that came to mind–

        When players mouse over your forum post, they’ll see a paragraph or so in the ‘preview’ I feel it’s important to state the guild name and times upfront so people see that. We used to have something that was like ‘blah blah JC has been around since MC…’ and our actual progression was cut off. Could be as simple as saying ‘What Business Time, a 5/13 10s guild, is looking for:’ vs ‘What we’re looking for’

        I would also put the schedule towards the top and specifically say it’s a 9 hour raiding guild. Like ICC, there’s 9 hour and 16 hour guilds at the same progression spot, so your schedule would be appealing.

      • Thanks Perculia, this is a great tip. I updated our post accordingly. It makes for a little bit of repetition in the ad but I think that’s okay, especially if it makes it more mouse-over friendly!

  4. I’ve already ranted about the difficulties of recruitment in the game right now so I won’t repeat myself. :)

    Looking at your guild finder blurb, are you aware that people who are browsing for guilds can’t actually see the entire thing because a good chunk of it currently gets cut off? I’m thinking with how hard you’ve been trying to squeeze info in there, most applicants might not even be able to read the url (which might explain people asking questions that are answered on the website).

  5. jlseverino said:

    I feel your pain vidyala. I am the recruitment officer for a 10 man raiding guild as well. My usual ads are done using trade chat. Since my realm forum posts either get trolled by someone who hates our GM or get lost in the mountain of ads/posts from the rest of the server.

    But one of my biggest pet peeves is how blizzard always brings out half-assed applications to try help guild recruitment. Don’t get me wrong it is a nice concept. But would it have killed them to make the response system a little better. I have to sit with guild finder request window and try to send a message to someone in hopes that they are still online. If the person joined a guild after the request was posted the said request won’t disappear. Your guildleader is the only person who can do the ad, thus why have ranks if the recruiter rank in the guild can’t work with the application. I really thought it was to alleviate the chores of the guild leader but instead it feels that it is to make do more work. The 5 lines limit would be ok if the window would expand to show the rest of the message. I wonder if this ui app is going to be with the same learning curve like the group finder queue was when it first came out. If anyone remember those days when using the stone would land you in a group with 4 other dpses and how did it take them to fix that.

    Last, vid if you still need help checking some moonkin armory I can help. Thanks for the great post. They are always very interesting to read.

  6. Hi there,

    I can certainly relate to your thoughts on posting Real ID information for everyone to see on the boards. I remember when I was recently looking for a guild and I had recruitment officers throwing their personal info @ me and I admit that I didn’t even bat an eyelash @ it. Only a few days later did it really hit me that it may not have been OK for them to do that and then immediately became worried FOR them.

    On the other hand, while I don’t think that was the smartest thing to do, I have to say that I was more impressed with the guilds and the recruitment officers that were willing to reach out to me in more personal terms. I had a number of people offer me the chance to hop into Vent or Mumble with them and talk to me on a one on one basis, rather than hashing everything out on the boards or in whispers. That felt really nice! I had one guild let me sit in on a guild meeting. Another had me meet some of their other trials, to hear about their experiences thus far.

    It’s very easy for guilds to look at the process and think of you as just a number or a class and not a person looking to find a great new home. But I think a guild that can go the extra mile, past the point of copy and paste forum posts stands out to me and hopefully it would to other people.

    Just wanted to get that off my chest. Great post!
    ;)

  7. Gameldar said:

    I’ve been trying to recruit… without success. There used to be a sticky on the old oceanic forums listing the GMT+8 guilds which began with a blurb along the lines of ‘Why a separate thread for GMT+8 guilds? We are the minority of the minority” – which is true. Of the US/Oceanic timezones we are the minority in the first place because we’re on the oceanic side and then take us to Western Australia and you find yourself in the smallest population set. It means that the opportunities for recruitment are small… and then on top of that I actually play on the lowest population of the oceanic realms too. And then the final nail in the coffin is that we’re not a progression guild and we’re only looking for people that are looking to raid one night a week.

    So at present we’re not raiding (which is another issue for recruiting) and I’ve been trying to work up the energy to try and get things working involving pugs… but it seems easier to just pvp – but I’ve already hit the point where I want to get into rated BGs… and I’m going to hit the same problem there.

    Anyway… I think that was just more cathartic for me than anything else … but the whole situation has made me wonder what I’m looking to do and perhaps whether I need to server transfer to join someone else rather than just keeping spinning the wheel.

  8. Yahannah said:

    It’s interesting that you point out how ten man recruiting is easier for you now. The rise of the ten man guilds has made recruiting for 25’s a nightmare. For every one person looking for a 25 man guild specifically, it seems there are 3 or 4 looking for tens. Frustrating…

    And, I agree that applicants have become extremely high maintenance. I too create lvl 1 toons to send in game mail to people I’m trying to recruit. But, most of the time, you get no response. Applicants demand personal messages in their posts – I’ve even seen people write things like “If you post your guild copy-paste info I wont read it.” Well that’s all fine and dandy, but it’s not as if you’re going to take the time to respond to the personalized paragraph I just wrote for you (yes, I write a personalized recruitment message to each player.) Recruiting takes so much time now that it has become like a second job.

    Applicants also seem to expect immediate responses. We have all recruits fill out an application and our members then ask them questions about any obvious shortcomings and about their playstyle. Recruits are expected to respond to the questions and then we schedule a vent interview to make sure the person is a good social fit. We’ve lost several potential recruits because they aren’t willing to wait the 24 hours for an interview because they know that they can avoid an application elsewhere. It’s very frustrating.

    Anyway, enough venting. Nice post. I hope there are some real solutions on the horizon for guild recruitment. I feel like it’s part of the reason why people are leaving WoW. They are frustrated by the inability to find guilds that fit what they’re looking for or that are stable. Bliz really needs to put some serious thought into the guild recruitment structure. Afterall, people who are able to join guilds they love pay subscription fees longer!

    • I sympathize wholly with everything you’ve written here. I, too, take time to write personalized paragraphs that I doubt most people read. We’ve lost applicants that applied in several places and never bothered to tell us that they were going elsewhere. I’ve seen people in their ads actually SAYING that they’d like their transfer fees paid – and there are guilds that are doing this! It’s mind-boggling to me. There are more people now looking for tens, but I still seem to see quite a few ads where people specify they want 25-mans. I suppose it depends on what you’re looking for which ones you notice. ;)

      I’m sorry recruitment for you has been tough, as it is for all of us. I hope you’re able to find the players you need despite the obstacles we’re facing!

  9. One thing that has absolutely galled me about the forums is how competing guilds will report your post.

    Not once, but twice I have received temporary forum bans for bumping more than one time a day. My guild leader has also received a temporary forum ban for this. The result? I’m now scared of receiving a perma ban, and so can only bump our thread once per day.

    That means that unless an applicant is really quite thorough my ad will be within the first few pages for a matter of an hour or so, and I just do not have the time to scour the forum for too long looking for people to reply to. Argh.

  10. […] terribly sorry to have to bother you with this again, I truly am.¬† But as others¬†have noted, recruiting has become increasingly difficult, to the point of being borderline […]

  11. Copying some of your recruiting methods (not really from this post, just in general) is probably the second-biggest single thing that got Marshmallows our Sinestra kill and soon 13/13. I owe you a favor. Thanks Millya.

    • You’re welcome. :) Off-server recruitment has always served us really well; you’re able to find people who are just right for your guild (and not just “right there.”) I’m glad you guys have been doing so well! Keep those secrets under your hat, huh? No one must ever know!

  12. […] so recruiting feels like it’s taking a little longer than usual. I’ve written about recruiting being hard this expansion before (harder than I’ve ever seen) but I’ve been thinking about this a great deal and […]

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