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Spiritual Guidance: Applying to a raiding guild, healing priest edition

Dawn Moore

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Spiritual Guidance for discipline, holy and shadow priests. Dawn Moore covers healing for discipline and holy priests, while her archenemy Fox Van Allen handles the shadows (and laundry). Dawn hates Battlecruisers.

Anyone who knows me moderately well will know that at any given time there is a 50/50 chance that I won't be in a guild.

Why? Because like Romeo searching for love, I am constantly trying to find the perfect guild for me. I'm an incredibly volatile person (in every sense of the word) and in the wrong environment I'm not a particularly happy person. If I'm not happy, I don't play well, and if I don't play well then I'm not bringing anything to the raid. Thus I'm always searching, always writing applications, and always redoing my ugly UI every time I crash land on a new server with bright eyes and hopes that I'm finally in the right place.

This month I am once again looking for a new guild and thought I'd let you guys in on the process. So if you've ever thought of taking your raids and PVE a little more seriously, I've got a lot of good information for you. If you also happen to be a healing priest, I have some specifics on what you'll need to be mindful of.

Applying to a guild 101

Most serious raiding guilds have a two part process to becoming a member. The first is a written application, the second is a trial run. I'll be talking almost exclusively about the application today. (If you'd like me to talk about the trial process, let me know in the comments. I can't help with it as much, since it's largely up to you, but there are still a few nuances to know as a priest.) In the application you're going to be answering questions to show what you know, what your credentials are, and who you are.

When you fill it out, take your time and take it seriously. You want to answer questions completely, thoughtfully, and clearly. Spelling and grammar counts, as well as the length of your responses. Your answers should show that you've taken your time and care about the quality of your response. Don't mind any snide remarks you initially receive about your application being a "wall of text." It's not a bad thing.

Some general tips.

  • Make the text easy to read by breaking it up into paragraphs. If you can format (bold, underline, etc.), use those tools to your advantage. If your response will be read on a forum, pick a color that will be easy to read on the background of the page. Preview the color to make sure it's not straining.
  • If you aren't a master of the English language, even when you take your time, provide a disclaimer about that at the beginning of your application. This will make people more patient with your grammatical mistakes.
  • Remember that you're not above this task. All good raiders had to apply to a guild at some point, and even if you're the most famous priest on the server you have to pay your dues. Applying shows you take the guild and raiding seriously.
  • In the words of the matron priest blog, Snarkcraft: don't lie. Everything in this game is easily tracked nowadays, so it's almost impossible to fake what you've done. Never bolster your credentials with falsities and don't tweak any skeletons you might have in your closet if they come up. Lies will always be found out; the raiding world is a lot more incestuous than you think.
  • If you can, look at other applications to get an idea of the quality of application guilds expect. Some guilds will let you review other applications.
Showing them what you know

The most important part of your application will be proving that you know how your class works. Most guild applications will ask you specific questions to lead you in the right direction, like "explain your talent, reforging, gem, enchant, and glyph choices." Notice that you're being asked to explain why you took something, not what you've taken. Raiding guilds are looking for people who can think, and are able to explain why they make the decisions they have made. As a healer you should know there are a lot of right answers, since the healing demands of every raid team tend to vary. Be able to justify every choice you've made about your character, and if you can't, consider why you've made that choice at all. You might end up having to make some changes before you submit your application.

As a priest, the decisions you make about your secondary stats will be subject to the most critique. Make sure you know why you use the stats you do and be prepared to explain why you haven't taken something else. Do you use mastery because it gives the most throughput according to Elitist Jerks? Do you use haste past the 5th Renew tick for any special reason? What are your feelings on crit? There is a lot of flexibility for healing priests of either spec to go different ways on this topic and you'll need to be able to justify what you do.

One spec, two spec, three spec

Most guilds will expect you to be able to play two of your three specs, but as a healing priest you're going to find yourself in an awkward situation at times because we have two healing specs. Whether you want to or not, every serious raiding guild will want a healer that can play both holy and discipline, because not every fight is going to be suited to both specs. But only being able to be a healer makes you less versatile during farm content when less healing is required, so most guilds like for you to have a DPS offspec as well. So basically, guilds are going to want you to know how to play all three of your specs, even if you never end up changing out of your main spec.

So what do you do if you can't play all three specs? Learn how to play all three specs. Read up on how each spec works, and practice in 5-man dungeons. You don't need to be pro at all of them, but you should have the ability to become pro at all of them with practice. Once you've done that, apply and say that you're the best with your main spec, and familiar with playing the others. Personally, I'd prioritize becoming a baller with your alternative healing spec because Cataclysm is a lot more demanding on a healing priests versatility than previous expansions.

Tell them what you've done

Especially in world class guilds, credentials mean everything. Guilds want to know who you've raided with, when, and what you killed when you raided with whoever. Keep in mind that killing a fight on farm content doesn't mean anything to anyone; you need to tell a guild what fights you pounded your head against all night and eventually overcame.

If you don't have very good credentials, explain why. Maybe you've never been in an organized raiding guild and you've only pugged. Keep in mind that you can't go from 10-man pugs on Moon Guard (no offense to the Moon Guardians) to a main raid spot in Paragon. Apply to a guild that is a step up from your existing credentials.

As a priest, tell people what your role has been on any fights where your spec might have played a pivotal or impressive role in killing the boss. Did you tank heal Algalon as a disc priest? Were you the gong smashing holy priest on Heroic Atramedes? Did you dispel on Sinestra?

You must have logs

Logs, or parses, are the next most important part of your application to a guild and many guilds will not review an application without them. You can't not have them, so make some if you don't already have them. Screenshots from Recount will often suffice if you don't have the ability to parse.

As a priest and a healer, guilds will be screening you for more than just healing output. To assist them, direct their attention to specific fights where you feel you performed well. If you have a log where you topped the healing meters on a fight where priests are at disadvantage, show that. If you have a log from a fight with lots of avoidable damage where you took the least damage, show that. If on a night of progression you died the least, show that. Try to paint a picture of your strongest skills as a player with your logs.

Remember that while numbers aren't everything for a healer, having better numbers than other people in your logs will help to show that you are better than the people you currently raiding (which is why you're applying to this new guild in the first place).

Everything else

Everything else in the application is largely fluff -- even the part about your UI and keybindings. A lot of the questions are only there to make sure you're not completely inept. If your keybindings and UI look reasonably functional, no one will care what they are. Likewise, most people won't care about any of your biographical information, or your exact computer specifications.

What they will care about though is the answer to this question "why do we want you in our guild?" Make sure you answer it thoroughly, and not confuse it with "why do you want to join our guild." Tell your future guild what you have to offer as a player and a priest, and make sure it sounds unique. Showing up on time, never missing raids, and having a good attitude are a good start, but there are lots of other valuable traits in raiding to consider.

As a priest, try to break down what your job in a guild and raid will be. As a healer there are certain skills or traits that are more important to doing your jobs than others. Being willing to change specs is appealing since, as I said before, there are sometimes limitations to using a certain healing spec on a fight. Having good, upfront communication is another selling point, since you'll often need to communicate directions in the middle of battle. When you consider all the cooldown abilities we have, this is especially vital.

That's about it. If you'd like to see some examples of good applications, stalk around various top guild websites and look for sites that have public application forums. If you have any additional information for your peers, let's hear it. And if you've got a second, cross your fingers for me. I'll need it.

Spiritual Guidance has the inside line on pre-raid gear, valor point and raid gear, and healing strategies for bosses such as Atramedes and Chimaeron. Newcomer to the priest class? Look into Discipline Priest 101 and Holy Priest 101.

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