Officer Chat: Recruitment

guild recruitmentOfficer Chat is a weekly column by Lavathing that discusses the trials and tribulations of performing a leadership role in a Warcraft raiding guild.  We attempt to tackle the tough problems that arise from this job and present advice on how to move your guild forward.

This week we take a look at recruitment.  It is every officer’s nightmare, but also one of the most essential parts of maintaining a productive raid team.  Below I will address why it is so important, the problems you might run into, and solutions for being as effective of a recruitment officer as possible.  If you have any questions of comments regarding this article, please comment below or tweet us @Healcraft!

What is Recruitment, and Why Do I Care?

The first part of that question should be pretty obvious.  Recruitment is the act of supplying your raid team with new raiders.  In my experience, the success of your guild’s recruiting, and the flow on new trials into your guild, is almost directly correlated to your success as a raid team.  Let’s face it; all guilds have turn-over.  It sucks, but you can deal with it if you have a solid recruitment team.  Additionally, if you are pushing for higher US or World ranks, recruitment is not just for replacing people who leave.  It is about “upgrading” players on your team for better players.  Not all raid teams aim for the same thing with recruitment.  Almost all teams recruit to at least counterbalance turn-over, but more casual guilds might not be interested in recruiting to replace under-performers.  However, in this article I will be making the assumption that you are a guild that runs a policy of “any exceptional player potentially has a spot on our team.”  Meaning, if someone comes in and is better than one of your current raiders, they get their spot.  If you are from a guild where that is not your policy, that’s ok, but some of the following may not apply to you.

So What’s the Problem?

healcraft recruitment forums example

There are a lot of things to consider when recruiting.  First, let’s start at the beginning:  what is the urgency level of recruitment for your guild?  All guilds should be recruiting all the time, but certain situations may call for a guild to go into “recruitment overdrive.”  Why should you be recruiting if you think you have a solid roster?  First, there is always room for improvement.  You never know when a trial will come in and outperform current raiders.  More importantly, you are less likely to be caught with your pants down when someone unexpectedly leaves your team.  Going from zero recruitment presence to hardcore “we need someone by tomorrow night or we don’t raid” is almost impossible.  You should always have recruitment threads up on recruitment forums and be posting your guild information in LFG threads.  Remember, posting in someone’s thread (or even adding them on real ID), leaves you with no obligation to go any further in the recruitment process.  There is absolutely zero downside to a “constantly recruiting” strategy, but it has the huge benefit of always being prepared for a recruitment surge.  This is one of the most prevalent mistakes made by guilds — doing zero recruitment when things are good.

I’ve personally made this mistake before.  My guild had a solid roster, a good-sized bench, and everything looked promising.  Then, for various reasons, we had a sizable amount of people either quit the game, take a break from raiding, or leave the guild.  Unfortunately, since I thought we did not need to be recruiting with a full roster, I had to go from doing zero recruitment to going full-on emergency recruitment. I had no contacts, I had not added any potential recruits in weeks, our guild had no presence on the various recruitment forums, and we suddenly had to find a bunch of new people.  If I had only just continued recruiting, getting in contact with potential recruits, and built up my real ID with people looking for a guild then the turn-over would not have been that bad.  Turn-over always sucks, but it is inevitable, so be prepared for it.

Time to Recruit

Now that you’ve realized it is time to recruit (since it always is), what problems might you run into while searching for new players?  First, forget your roster.  What does this mean?  As a guild always looking for ways to improve, you should never shut the door on recruitment for any particular class, spec, role, or anything because you always have X amount on your roster.  Like we talked about above, you never know when you might need to replace someone who is no longer with the team.  More importantly, if a recruit is confident they will outperform your current “X” class/spec/role, trial them.  Does it matter how many of those classes/specs/roles you already have on roster?  No.  In a progression guild everyone should know that their spot is never safe.  If someone comes in and outperforms them, that person gets their spot.  A big mistake is to overlook potentially great additions to your team because you don’t think that player will fit into your current roster.  Rosters can change, don’t miss out on opportunities.  Obviously you should be aware of immediate needs for a class/spec/role on your roster, just don’t pass up on a good player because you already have a player on your roster with the same role.

healcraft adapt thread example

One of the first steps of recruitment is to set up a guild thread on recruitment forums.  The two most popular forums are the official forums and MMO-Champion forums.  When making your guild’s forum thread, you want to highlight important information, give reasons why your guild is better than others (ie. why a random person would be interested in joining your guild), and make it stand out.  We have a basic template for a guild forum thread located here.  Feel free to copy it and adapt it to your personal specifications.  Additionally, for a real world example of the template in action, feel free to check out my guild’s recruitment thread.  Remember, you want to make your guild sound as appealing as possible in the “About” section at the top.  We’ve located that section at the front of the template so it is the first thing a potential applicant will look at.  Craft the section to attract the type of applicant you are looking for.  Are you a more casual guild?  Make your guild sound laid-back and fun.  Are you pushing hardcore progression?  Make a point to say that you are always recruiting exceptional players for core positions, regardless of the current roster.  If you need specific help with creating your guild’s message, feel free to comment below or tweet us @Healcraft

Now that you have set up your guild’s “spam” message that you post in threads made by people looking for a guild.  This message should be short and concise, giving important information without using large paragraphs.  When potential recruits look through the spam in their thread, posts that are extremely long almost always get ignored.  Leave the paragraphs for your guild’s main thread.  Additionally, many guilds just spam every thread in existence without actually reading the opening post.  While this might seem like a time-saver and good idea at first, you will quickly gather a reputation as a spammer.  Being my guild’s recruiter, and frequenting recruitment forums daily, I can name 3-4 guilds that I know just mindlessly spam.  They are known to do this, and I’ve actually had interviews with applicants to mention “those guilds” that just spam without reading.  Always read the opening post and try to add a personal touch in your response.  A simple “You mentioned you’re looking for X.  <MyGuild> has X!”  or “Our times are exactly what you’re looking for” is very helpful.  Showing that you’ve taken the time and interest to read the opening post will in turn result in the potential recruit taking the time and interest to contact your guild.  We have an example template for your guild’s “spam” located here.

Although I mention the dangers of “mindlessly spamming” above, that does not mean you shouldn’t post in many threads at a time.  When I referred to spamming above, I mostly meant that you post without reading the opening post of the thread.  However, when referring to “spamming” in the context of posting a lot, I encourage that.  You should be checking recruitment forums every day and posting in all threads that even have the slightest chance of being beneficial to your raid team.  Always remember that there can be diamonds in the rough!  Never disregard a thread because of item level, experience, class, spec, etc.  Remember, you don’t lose anything by offering trial to someone.  You have zero obligations to trials.  It is purely a net positive to your team to trial everyone who is interested.  This way, you never pass up on someone who, despite appearing unappealing at first, turns out to be a great addition to your team.

The best website to find threads from people looking for a guild is the Official Recruitment Forums.  Most players head to the official forums to look for a guild.  However, at the start of the day I usually head over to Wowlemmings and Proraiders.  These sites scan most known forums that allow people to post they are looking for a guild, and bring all the information together in one place.  The only downside to these websites is that they are not constantly updated.  Many times they don’t show threads made in the last 2-3 hours.  So, after scanning through both wowlemmings and proraiders, I head over to the official recruitment forums to post in any threads the aggregate sites might have missed.  Finally, if I am in “emergency recruitment mode”, I will go to Wowprogress’s LFG search tool.  You can search for players based on how many days they want to raid, their language, and class.  When you select a player, they should have a “LFG” note on their character’s page.  The main issue with wowprogress’s tool is that it does not require people who are looking for a guild to put their battletag in the message.  Due to this, many of the postings on wowprogress cannot be used, or are very inefficient.  If they do not have their battletag in their information, you can hunt them down with in-game mail or whispers.  However, unless the player looks like a perfect fit, this is usually not worth the time.  Because of wowprogress’s limitations, I usually open dozens of character pages and grab the battletags from ones that include it.  Because you may only get 2-3 battletags per 20 pages opened on wowprogress, it is very inefficient.  The lack of battletag requirement is the reason why I only use wowprogress if I’m in an emergency recruitment mode.  For day-to-day recruitment, wowprogress will waste more time than it is worth.

Recruitment Efficiency

healcraft spreadsheet example

Recruitment takes a lot of time and effort, both of which are finite for you.  Efficiency and delegation are essential parts of being a great recruiter.  Set up a thread or spreadsheet on your guild’s officer forums.  Keep track of all the threads you post in, all the real IDs you add, all the people you offer trial, and any notes about potential recruits.  Not only does this help you stay organized, it makes it easy for other officers to help with the process.  Why is it so important you keep track of these notes?  The worst thing you can tell someone who just added you on real ID, or accepted your real ID request, is:  “Hi, I spammed a bunch of threads today; can you link me to yours?”  The second they add you (or accept your request), pull up the spreadsheet, get their basic information, and be personal.  A better opening statement would be:  “Hello X, I read your forum thread and I noticed you said X, I think that would make you a great fit for our raid team.”  Let them know you read their thread and they will assume you added them specifically, rather than in a mass recruitment spree.

We have a basic spreadsheet for readers to use, located here.  To get your own copy of that spreadsheet, sign into a Google account, click “File”, then “Make a Copy”.  Additionally, we set up an example spreadsheet, located here.  Obviously, feel free to add onto and adapt the spreadsheet for your own purposes once you make a copy.  Additionally, you can adapt the spreadsheet into a forum thread if that is easier for your guild.  Have officers post the same information requested by the spreadsheet in a forum thread to achieve similar results.  Get your fellow recruiters and officer team involved with the spread sheet/forum thread.  Make sure they check it frequently and help out where they are needed.  Successful recruitment is often a team effort.

Another important aspect of recruitment efficiency is what you do after establishing initial contact.  This process will vary depending on your guild’s policies in regards to recruitment and for each potential recruit.  However, I will offer suggestions that I’ve found to be successful.  After a potential recruit adds you on battletag, or they accept your request, talk to them immediately.  Many times the difference between a recruit joining your guild or another guild is how quickly to talk with them and offer trial.  Most times, the first guild that they are interested in that offers a trial will be the one the recruit chooses.

After you both have each other on real ID, you need to assess that specific person.  If you are very interested in them, need them to join ASAP, or they look particularly exceptional, you should request that they come into ventrilo/mumble/teamspeak to chat immediately.  Conduct an on-the-fly interview (more information about interviews below) and offer trial (or don’t) at the end of the conversation.  Remind them that you can, and will, utilize them as soon as they make it over.  Even if they leave your interview undecided, always end the conversation with a line like, “Looking forwarding to raiding with you!”  This makes the trial offer seem more real and sincere.  To the contrary, if the potential recruit is not someone you’re super interested in, might not look very promising, or has a few concerning characteristics do not request an interview immediately.  Refer them to your guild’s written application process.  (We’ll discuss creating quality application questions in a future Officer Chat column)  This way you can get more information on them, see if they are dedicated enough to write an application, and potentially get answers for concerns you have about their toon.

TL;DR:  After establishing battletag contact, if the person is very promising and you know you want them to trial ASAP, do an interview immediately.  If the person not an urgent need (for whatever reason), get them to fill out an application.

The Interview

healcraft voice example

If you have determined that you potentially want to offer a trial to someone, the interview is the next step.  Getting someone into the interview quickly is the best way to get them to transfer as soon as possible.  Knowing what to ask and look for in the interview is an essential part of the recruitment process.  Asking the correct questions not only helps you get information on the recruit, but also displays what your guild is looking for.  It is a two way street, and a good or bad interview often is the deciding factor in securing a potential recruit.

Before having the recruit join your voice server, you should try to get someone who plays the same class/spec as them online to assist in the interview.  Although you can ask generic questions about class decisions, someone who mains as that class/spec is likely to have better questions than you.  If you cannot find someone online to help you, it isn’t the end of the world.  As the recruitment officer you should have a basic understanding of all classes/specs.  Inspect their armory and logs briefly and try to find something that stands out that you can ask them about.  If all else fails, ask generic questions like, “What is your stat/gem strategy?” or, “What talents do you change often?  Why, and on what fights?”  Even if you do not know the answers to these questions, you can usually tell if the person knows what they are talking about by the way they respond.  Answers like, “Well, I just look at noxxic”, “I’m not sure, I just pick this stuff because I like it”, or “I’m not sure” are clear indicators that they do not have a deep understanding of their spec.  If they answer with clear reasoning and explaining why they make certain choices when building their character, then you can assume they at least have a decent understanding of their spec.  Finally, you can always compare their armory to the armory of players in your guild with the same spec/class.  You can then spot differences and ask about them.  Make it clear that differences does not necessarily mean one is wrong; you are more interested in hearing their reasoning for their build decisions.

After the “class/spec” part of the interview, move onto guild fit and attitude questions.  Although it seems cliché to ask what they are looking for in a guild, or what their idea of a perfect guild fit would be, the answers to these questions should tell you how well the person will fit in your raid team.  If their answers match up to what you believe your guild provides, be sure to reinforce that with them.  Make it clear that what they are looking for is a perfect fit with your guild.  Explain your guild atmosphere, community, or policies that share similarities with that they are looking for.

Finally, if you’ve concluded that this recruit is someone you’d like to trial, explain all of your important guild policies.  Explain attendance, loot, roster, progression, alt, etc. requirements.  Although someone seems like a perfect fit, many times something as simple as loot policy can immediately turn them off.  Make sure all of your important policies are explained clearly and in a way that portrays the guild in a positive light.  Ask them if they have any issues or concerns with any of the policies.  Sometimes a recruit will agree to trial, but keeps a concern about a particular policy bottled up, which can lead to conflict down the road.  Once all of your policies have been addressed, ask the recruit if they have any questions for you.  Make it clear that trialing is a two-way street.  The recruit is trialing to be a part of the raid team; also, the guild is trialing with the recruit to see if it is a good fit for him/her.  After the recruit’s questions are answered, formally offer the trial.  Typically I use a line like, “I liked everything I heard so far, and I think the next logical step would be to see you in action over here as a trial.  I’m confident you’ll do well, so as soon as you are ready to make a decision on a guild, we’d love to have you in raid.”  Obviously, you can adapt that line to meet specific needs of the particular recruit.

Conclusion

Thanks for reading my first Officer Chat post!  I will try to post a new Officer Chat topic every week.  However, as you can tell by this article, some may be very lengthy.  If this is the case, I might do an article every two weeks.  Next week we will continue with the recruitment theme and talk about creating a good application with quality questions.  Additionally, I will talk about how to handle someone who is trialing, what to look for, how to decide on passing/failing the trial, and how to make the new recruit feel like a part of the team.

If you have any questions regarding this week’s Officer Chat, or anything related to the material covered in this post, please comment below or shoot me a tweet @Healcraft!  I hope this post will be useful for your guild’s recruitment efforts.  Good luck!

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