Last week, we talked about why officers are burning out so early in the expansion. Many of the same factors have burned out average raiders and PvPers, also, leaving gaping holes in our rosters. In the current environment, recruiting can be extremely difficult. I've received quite a few emails lately asking for tips. Here's my best advice.
1. Don't be intimidated by guild level and achievements.
So you just started a guild, or your guild hasn't kept pace with leveling since the expansion went live. Those perks are awesome, and no one will join unless you have them, right? Wrong -- players care a lot more about the type of community they're joining and the sorts of members that inhabit your roster. They care more about whether or not your schedule meshes with theirs. And they care more about having fun than 10% more justice points or faster mount speed.
Well, maybe I'm generalizing a bit and not everyone feels that way, but honestly, do you even want a player on your roster who cares more about those things than the quality of the guild? Don't fill your roster with random players just to level faster. You'll only hurt the community in the long run.
When you tell players about your guild, instead of listing the perks that you've unlocked, talk about what makes your guild special. Give them reasons to join that go beyond perks, such as special events that you run, the unique policies that guide decision-making, even the time zone that most of your players live in, if it's different than your server's. Anything that sets your guild apart from others is an advantage.
Certainly you should mention access to cauldrons and feasts and any other important quality-of-life bonuses that you have, but don't let the lack of such things discourage you. Rather, tell people the steps that you're taking to earn these achievements faster so they can see you're proactive about improving the guild.
2. Your best resource is your current membership.
A statistic I've heard often is that 60-70% of jobs in the United States are filled through networking and informal contacts rather than traditional job advertising. I don't think anyone has the true numbers for WoW guilds, but I'd bet that the number isn't very far off from 60-70%, perhaps more. Think about the current members of your own guild. How many of them were random applicants? I'd bet for many guilds who are careful about the players they invite, less than half joined this way. Most players join a guild because they already know players in that guild.
Thus, we should never underestimate the power of our existing membership to aid our recruiting efforts. Recruiting is a job for officers, and ultimately it is officers who make the decision about whether to invite someone. However, in these lean times, officers should reach out to their members for help, and all members should actively seek to interest friends in joining their guild.
As always, I condemn poaching, but there are plenty of people whose guilds have recently collapsed or who have just started playing WoW again. Tell your members to keep an eye out for players they know who might be looking for a new community. Better yet, tell them to ask around if anyone is.
3. Stop focusing on class.
Today, many guilds continue to identify the classes that they "need." Let's be clear: I put need in quotes because, in today's WoW, no class is mandatory. Even the king of all class-specific cooldowns, Bloodlust, has been given to two other classes. (I refuse to call it Heroism.)
It's okay to identify the classes that you would like to recruit. However, limiting your search to only those classes is only going to hinder your efforts and may turn away other excellent candidates. Instead, focus your search on players in the roles that you need, whether that's ranged DPS, healing, or what have you.
Consider taking desirable players who apply even if you don't need more bodies in those roles. Check with the applicant and with your members in those roles to see if anyone would like to switch to a different spec and change roles. Sometimes you'll find that a player has been itching to switch specs and is more than happy to do so. You'll never know unless you ask!
4. Don't obsess about gear.
Gear is pretty hard to come by right now compared to Wrath's first tier. Tier 11 is not particularly PuG-friendly yet, so players who haven't been in successful raiding guilds are most likely going to be undergeared compared to those on your roster.
Gearing up will get significantly easier with the addition of the two troll instances in 4.1, and it will become even easier with 4.2, when all of the current valor point gear will become available for justice points, not to mention any Tier 12 BoE recipes that the patch may add. It's more important at this point to find quality players, regardless of their item level.
5. Be aggressive.
Gone are the times where progressed guilds could sit back and let the applicants roll in. The merging of 10- and 25-player content has continued in Cataclysm. Large raiding guilds are no longer the gatekeepers for the game's best items and most epic content. Whether you think of this as a curse or a godsend, it's the new reality.
Guilds of all sizes and preferences are now, in most cases, competing for the same pool of players. You can't post an ad on your server's forum and expect immediate results. You need to "pound the pavement" -- get out there and talk to people. Form Baradin Hold PuGs and chat up any solid players who are guildless. Do the same for achievement runs in older raids or attacks on enemy cities. Skip the dungeon finder and put together some heroic runs the old-fashioned way. You don't have to be an officer to do any of these things, so encourage your regular members to help out, too.
If you're looking for more advice on recruiting, I encourage you to download Chapter 3 of The Guild Leader's Handbook for free. It's the chapter about recruiting, and it contains many more general tips on acquiring players for your community.
My last bit of advice is this: Don't get discouraged if it takes you longer than you expected to find new players. All but the best guilds in the world are in the same boat right now.
Recently, Officers' Quarters has examined how strong new leadership can create a guild turnaround, the pitfalls of promising more than you can deliver, and lessons learned from Scott's own guild demise. Send your own guild-related questions and suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.