Friday, July 3, 2009

Sex sells a little too well… My thoughts on recruiting

I used to be one of the best recruiters on our server. I say used to be because I have recently started to doubt that claim. I used to spend hours on end scouring recruitment threads, cross realm transfer requests, researching unguilded toons, promoting, etc. I love to recruit, so much so I think I should have gone into head hunting rather than marketing. Although I suppose my marketing background helped some.

After Midnight has been no exception to fuel my love; however this time around recruiting has been somewhat of a different beast.

We started off the guild as a focused raiding guild that has fun but still gets things done. I have been raiding with some of the players in this guild for almost as long as I have been playing the game. We are extremely comfortable with each other and due to this fact I believe this has made us into extremely crass individuals in game. Don’t get me wrong, we have our limits, however several of us are comfortable to have discussions out in guild chat that most would only have with your best friend over a bottle of wine. This is where recruiting for the guild became interesting.

I’m still coming across moments where I slap my hand against my forehead and say why didn’t we recruit this way in the first place for After Midnight’s “special” situation. Let me share with you what I learned.

Mama’s 5 rules to recruiting:

Know your focus and define it clearly

One of the biggest issues I have had deal with is changing how the guild is to appease everyone. After Midnight’s goal was in fact a semi-hardcore one. We wanted to down bosses and have our proverbial cake too while still being allowed to mess around. Unfortunately selling yourself as a focused raiding guild doesn’t go over well when recruits understand this to mean that during raids everyone brings their “A” game, mutes their mic and gets the job done.

After Midnight has become a special case as our members have become slightly bipolar in their wants for the guild and we have twisted and turned the guild to try to accommodate every change whether it be monthly, weekly or even daily. We have gone to complete horsing around during raids which tend to make them much longer in length, to complete silence on vent when members complained we’re not focused enough, back to a medium of minimal horsing around when those same members complained it wasn’t fun anymore which in turn lengthened the raid week once again. (Not to mention added to the number of wipes)

Ideally, what should have happened is we should have defined the guild clearly, recruited as such as a focused raiding guild and upheld the standards rather than bending and twisting to every member’s whim. In doing so, we would have entered a clear contract with everyone in our guild by keeping the promise of focused raiding with them complying or else face unfortunate consequences to keep the guild integrity.

Set reasonable standards then stick to them

If your goals are to only recruit players who are completely geared in Tier 8.5 to see the content you are currently doing stick to it and don’t deviate. That said you wouldn’t make such a demand of players if you were only starting out Naxxramas with your guild. Set your player demands early on and stick to them.

If you raid schedule requires your players to meet 50% raid attendance, enforce it. If players must be gemmed and enchanted properly to be considered for recruitment, require it 100% of the time.

If you set reasonable standards for your guild based on your guild’s status (casual, hardcore, pvp etc.) and server demand (low pop servers tend to have a more competitive player market than high pop) and you stay with them throughout your recruiting career you will be respected by your guildies and potential recruits alike. Deviate and you run the risk of seeming wishy washy or desperate depending on your situation.

Research your applicants

Never heard of the player you are about to recruit? Investigate. How many times have I run across a situation where I didn’t look into the guild background or server background of a potential recruit only to find out once recruited they were either a) a guild hopper, b) disliked by several members of the guild, c) trade chat spammer or d) drama queen. although not used that much anymore can sometimes give you a fair idea of where the toon you are thinking of recruiting has been.

Has the player applied to several guilds at once? Your server’s realm forums may have a “guild list” with their websites so you can check it out.

Are they coming from another guild? Talk to the guildies of that guild or better yet the Guild Master to get the 411. (This obviously might not be an option if the player is trying to be discreet but I’ve always felt sometimes it’s best to have the discussion with their GM to uphold better guild relations.)

In any case, a little digging and you might find yourself with a diamond in the rough or avoiding serious drama.

Don’t over recruit

One of the worse things to do to fresh applicants unless it’s outlined and expected from the outset is to sit on the sidelines night after night waiting for a chance at a raiding spot. I’ve been in situations where I have over recruited and had about 15 people sitting on the sidelines. People started dropping like flies because they felt they weren’t needed and applied to guilds that had a full time raiding spot for them. Unless you have detailed the fact that players need to work for their raid spot and the spot is not guaranteed, do not over recruit.

Class Balance; know what you need ahead of time

When we started After Midnight we looked at the amount of raiding toons we had and the amount we had for each spec and set our recruitment needs clearly on our website. Although Blizzard has been quoted as saying “bring the player not the class” it’s hard to have a successful raid with 10 paladins and 15 DKs. Ok maybe DKs are slightly over powered but hey even they have their raiding limits!

Knowing what classes bring which buffs to the table and building your raiding team accordingly is essential in a raiding guild pining for success. If your guild is more casual then Blizz’s cliché might be more up your ally but even then players don’t like having to compete with 10 others of their own class for gear especially if it’s done through /roll as some guilds do. The best way to build your guild is to have a good mix of all classes and specs. This way your raiding guild can min/max properly or your casual players won’t feel faceless in a sea of players with the same class.

For those of you building your raid roster by min/maxing buffs one of the best raid building tools I have seen comes from MMO champion:

This tool allows you to play around with the different classes/spec to build an optimal raid based on the buffs you need to maximize your raid’s potential. Don’t have that Shadow Priest in your guild for the + to hit? Your Boomkin friend can do the same thing.

And Mama’s unwritten (until now) sixth rule of recruiting don’t use the promise of hot dirty priests as a selling point to your guild. Even though they tell you they come for the focused raiding you’ll find very quickly your guild is full horny old perverted men who think they can get into your pants, for real.

Happy Hunting!

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