Welcome along to Guild Chat, my column in which I join forces with commenters to help a reader in need with a guild-related concern. This edition’s submission is all about recruitment: Although many editions of Guild Chat dance around the topic, reader Jasper would like some more specific advice on the fine line between guild recruitment and white noise or blanket spam. Jasper’s MMO of choice is World of Warcraft and he would like to strengthen his guild’s roster before Legion drops, especially since he’s noticed that many of his once-active members dropped off in the gap between this expansion and the last. Keep reading for my recruitment checklist and Jasper’s full submission.
“I hear you know how to recruit, and I need help in that department. I play WoW and you might know that an expansion is coming called Legion. I did have a good guild but my roster has been hit hard by the wait for the expac. I was handed over the guild and didn’t do the original big recruitment drive so am lost. I now need to recruit for Legion, but my messages are being mostly ignored in cities and none of my officers is having any luck either. No matter how many messages I put up or how many people I whisper, no good response. How do I recruit better before the expac launch?”
Recruitment is a tricky process in general, Jasper, so don’t feel too bad about not getting great results on your first try. I’m going to be completely honest with you and admit that your submission suggests to me that you’ve found yourself on the wrong side of the recruitment-versus-spamming line! Let me help you get back on track and make your guild great again. I’m not promising miracles and you really don’t have much time to build up a full roster from nothing before the expansion hits on August 30th, but I know that a little bit of technique tweaking could most definitely help get you on your way to greatness.
My advice will be roughly divided into two main parts: Firstly, you need to narrow down what sort of content you wish to tackle in the new expansion and draw up a realistic person profile that applicants should resemble, and then secondly you need to recruit in a way that isn’t just creating some white noise in whichever one of the great cities you happen to haunt. When you pair both a solid plan of action and intelligent recruitment together, you’re not going to see a whirlwind of sudden uptake, but the people that you do attract will be precisely the sort you wanted to find in the first place.
Stop recruiting and think!
The first thing you need to do, believe it or not, is stop recruiting! I know it sounds crazily counterintuitive, but I noticed in your submission that you haven’t outlined what kind of player you’re looking for or what content you like to play, so I have a sneaking suspicion that you haven’t laid those details out for yourself yet? Forgive me if I’m wrong and feel free to skip these steps, but filling your guild with virtual bodies that have little to nothing in common isn’t a solid base on which to build a fantastic guild.
If your guild recruitment advert simply asks for more people or advertises “a casual guild that does a bit of everything”, it flashes up warning bells to your fellow players that your guild has little purpose, real direction, and does nothing particularly well at all. Even if you run a catch-all casual guild, you should be specific in how you facilitate that. Think about the sort of commercials that run on TV; some you’ll adore because they make the product features and benefits clear in an engaging way, but some will leave you scratching your head and wondering who works in that company’s marketing department. Don’t make your guild ads fall into the head-scratcher territory!
Regain your sense of purpose
Now that you’ve held back on recruitment to sort out your guild’s priorities, we’ll look at creating a sense of cohesion and purpose among your ranks. It sounds as though you’ve been handed the keys of a guild that predates your membership, so you might find it necessary to refine things before you can progress. You don’t mention whether or not you have a specific type of content you enjoy playing or what your guild’s purpose has been so far, so I’ll just use some unspecific examples to give you an idea of the sort of reinvention that could happen here.
Say, for example, the guild was once a casual levelling guild: Over time, those players will have done one of two things, which is reach the current level cap or drop off. Those who have dropped off should be purged from your roster to give you a clean start going into the reinvention. My rule of thumb is that players who have been offline for 3 months without letting the leaders know can be safely purged, especially since they can always ask for a reinvite if they come back. You’ll be left with a small band of active players, and it is with this band that you’ll find a new way forward as a collective.
Call a meeting with your officers and appraise your roster, noting the places in which your members are usually spotted in-game or some quick polls of online members to attempt to gauge the sort of content they play. Check if the group’s preferred playstyles have anything in common and roll with that as your guild’s new direction if so. Should your guild branch off and enjoy several content types, that can be managed by finding an officer who also engages in similar content to engage each particular wing of your roster. Diversity isn’t a bad thing here provided that someone has a handle on how your guild operates so no large chunk of the membership is neglected.
You have a core roster now, but how well is it organised? You might well find that the old guild ranks don’t suit your new purposes, especially if you have multiple content wings to manage, so play around with the ranks until you’re comfortable that every area is adequately managed. Multipurpose ranks can suit most guilds, though some choose to have specialist ranks for players who engage is specific content. A raider rank will allow an officer to quickly identify those who are geared for raiding, fo example, and likewise a PvPer rank will allow like-minded players to easily find some teammates. Get yourself a VOIP channel and have set chat rooms that mirror these content types too for best results.
Decide what you need and advertise
Now that you’ve banded various groups of players together and know what content you and your guildmates enjoy playing, we need to kit you out with amazing guild assets that make general guild management and recruiting much simpler. I am a massive fan of guild charters because I feel that they keep everyone on the same page in terms of the guild’s purpose.
Creating a charter can be as simple as making a one-sentence statement that summarises your guild mission followed by a short FAQ list that mirrors the common questions newbies might have upon joining up. Explaining things like guild scheduling, complaints handling, rank structure, and general house rules in your charter gives you a fantastic resource to hand to new members to reduce the amount of personal back-and-forth required to induct each new member.
Once you have your charter created, it’s a good idea to post it somewhere online that you can link back to. A guild website is a good idea for those who plan on doing large scale recruitment over a long period of time since you can create a standardised application form to make it easier to have multiple people check applicants fairly. Rather than relying on your officers to ask the right questions of each potential recruit, you know that every member has answered some basic questions and that nothing was forgotten about.
You should now have a set purpose, a revitalised guild structure, and all the tools you need to start recruiting again! You’ll find it much, much easier now that you can look at your ranks to identify the gaps and know precisely who you are looking for to fill them, especially now that you have specialist officers set up to help you find the right people. I find that playing the type of content you wish to play and identifying potential recruits right there on the gamefield is the best way to recruit. For example, filling a raiding gap with a PuG or two is a fantastic way to test people out: If they’re pugging, after all, then it’s likely that they don’t have a regular group to run with and would welcome a spot with you.
Specific, targeted advertisement
If particular spots prove hard to fill, don’t be afraid of map chat advertising, but be specific, brief, and polite in your ad. Don’t post it any more than once an hour… nobody wishes to see your message repeatedly clogging up their chat, no matter how well written the ad is! If I needed to fill a spot my ad might look something like this:
*Guild name* is looking for a new *role type* for *content type*. Must have *list requirements such as gear type, achievements needed etc.* Already cleared *list your guild’s level of achievement to date* and are aiming for *list your goals here*. Please visit *website link* to apply or /w me with any questions.
Avoid words such as friendly, drama-free, or mature in your advert: Every guild under the sun claims those same things so potential members will just tune it out as fluff. Save room for the real details and back this up by using similar no-frills wording in the in-game guild recruitment tools as well. A potential member only wants to know what content you run, your current level of progress, and what you expect of them at this initial stage; humour and banter can be injected into the application process if you wish to convey a particularly fun atmosphere or want to make the guild seem friendlier.
Lastly, don’t be afraid to look outside the box in your quest for new recruits. Check out forums, Reddit, and other social network fan groups to advertise your guild too. If you do take things outside of the game space, be respectful of the particular communication’s general rules and also be careful to protect your personally identifiable details when dealing with social networks. Don’t let every applicant friend you on Facebook, for example, and likewise don’t chase them via private messages either. Between all the various channels for recruitment and a renewed sense of direction in your current ranks, I sure hope you’ll have some slow but steady uptake very soon, Jasper!
Over to you!
Here’s hoping that Jasper finds some great guildmates over the next few weeks as he ventures into the next expansion. It’s a tricky time to recruit because pre-expansion lulls can sometimes reduce the number of active players around, but WoW‘s pre-launch patch might have helped to ebb the usual lull. Have you any points to add to my advice? How do you usually handle recruitment? Let Jasper and I know in the comments below.
Many thanks to jasper for this submission. If you have any guild-related queries you’d like to see addressed in Guild Chat, get in touch!