Friday, January 15, 2010

LFM: A Guide to Finding New Guilds

Having had to seek out a new guild recently, I’ve decided to make a quick guide detailing the process and hopefully serve as a reference to anyone else who finds themselves looking for a new home. As a former recruitment officer in previous raiding guilds, I am also going to offer some commentary on what I used to look for from applicants which may also prove helpful.

1. Identify your schedule
First, you want to figure out which days you’ll be able to comfortably raid, what times and how many total hours per week. You want to make this as specific as possible. The reason I recommend doing this before looking for guilds is because you want to avoid applying to any guild that you can’t give a full commitment. Speaking as a former recruitment officer, nothing made me hesitate on an application more than someone who was applying with a guaranteed absence on one of our regular raiding days.

2. Identify your goals
Next, you want to determine what it is that you’re really looking for from a raiding guild. Are you looking to join a 25-man guild fighting for world firsts? Or maybe you’re disenchanted with the large groups and want to find a solid 10-man strict guild? Perhaps you’re even looking to get involved with raiding for the first time? Whatever your ideals, it’s important to make sure you know what it is you’re looking for and what you’re comfortable with. Keep in mind that your schedule will also likely play a key role in what types of guilds you’ll be able to find. If you’re only able to raid six hours per week, it’s unreasonable to expect to join a guild aiming for world firsts since most of those guilds raid upwards of twenty hours per week (while they’re going for the first kills anyway). Be realistic.

For me, I set out looking for a solid 10-man strict guild on a Normal server that seemed to be completing a good portion of the hard modes and raided 2-3 nights a week for roughly 9-12 hours total. Don’t be afraid to make this as specific as possible; with the number of guilds that exist today, there’s a good chance you can find exactly what you’re looking for.

3. Research, research, research
Now that you have a nice list of your available raiding times and guild traits you’re looking for, it’s time to find a guild that matches the profile. There are a number of solid sites that help in narrowing down your selection. First, if you’re a progression-oriented person like I am, it helps to take a look at the ranking sites such as WoWProgress or (especially if you’re looking for a 10-man guild) GuildOx. Personally, I’ve always preferred to find guilds that are either at my own progression pace or no more than 1-2 kills ahead or behind. In the past, I’ve joined guilds that were far ahead of my current progression as well as helped start fresh guilds from scratch that had to do everything all over again. Neither situation was particularly fun; I either missed out on the excitement of downing difficult bosses for the first time (plus the added frustration of trying to learn fights that everyone else in the raid takes for granted) or I got bored re-learning the same content over again with new folk (mind you this was in vanilla so it was more Molten Core and Blackwing Lair). While it’s usually a good sign if a guild is slightly ahead of your own experience (since it hints at a more efficient raid group overall), there are times when a guild slightly behind could be worth taking a look, especially if they have had a recent spike in progress or are accomplishing their progress in less raid time.

A quick Google search on a guild’s name and server should turn up their website. I usually take it as a bad sign if it doesn’t – it means that they either don’t have one or that they don’t have enough relevant information on it for it to be listed. Now, I’ll admit to being a bit biased in this regard since I put a lot of work into maintaining my own previous guild’s website, but a guild’s website serves as one of the most important recruitment tools that they have. It immediately acts as a first impression, both aesthetically and in the information it conveys. When visiting a guild website, within minutes you should be able to find a) their recent progression, b) their current roster needs, c) their raiding schedule and guild policies, and d) their application process. If you can’t find all of these things quickly, then I tend to view it as an organizational failure on the part of the guild’s leadership, which reflects infavourably on their ability to run the guild as a whole. It may sound harsh, but let’s be honest, first impressions work both ways; if a guild isn’t making the effort to impress their recruits, why should recruits make a similar effort in their applications?

Furthermore, guild websites act as a conduit of offline (well, off-WoW) discussion between members. Whether they are organizing raids, discussing strategies or even just particpating in friendly banter, these types of conversations between guildmates are conducive to a positive raid environment.

You can also find lists of guilds specifically recruiting by visiting websites such as Elitist Jerks, MMO-Champion, World of Raids or the official recruitment forums. EJ particularly tends to have a very good signal to noise ratio, especially if you’re looking toward the high-end of progression. Again, you want to be able to find the vital information in these posts as easily as possible. You should have a pretty good idea what the guild is all about from the post. If not, it again speaks poorly towards the organizational ability of the officers. (Yes, I have high expectations of guild leaders, but I also went through all this effort myself as an officer, so I feel it’s warranted).

Now that you’ve found the guild’s website, which hopefully contains all of the information that you need to know, you can start to get a feel for whether they’re the right place for you. First, do their raid times match up? Next, do their policies seem fair? Be honest with yourself; if anything makes you feel a bit uncomfortable, then maybe it might be worth taking a look at some other guilds first. (Personally, loot councils always makes me a bit wary due to the potential corruption I’ve witnessed in the past. I prefer transparent loot systems myself.) Sometimes guilds that seem like a really good fit aren’t specifically recruiting for your class. However, it’s not a bad idea to keep them on the list regardless. Truly exceptional raiders (which you are, right?) will very rarely get turned down by a guild, so it’s worth keeping them in mind.

You want to look up as many of relevant guilds as possible. Expect it to take a few hours if not days. Don’t be in a rush! Taking your time with the process is probably one of the best recommendations I can give you. At the end, you should have a list of around 5-10 guilds that you feel would be the best fit, possibly even ranked in order of preference.

4. Contact the guilds
This may seem like an optional step, but I’ve always found it to be really helpful both as an applicant and an officer. I recommend making an alt on the servers of each of the guilds on your short list (if the guild is already on the same server as your main, that’s a bonus) and get in contact with one of their officers. The names of the officers to contact will likely be on their website, but if not, you can always use the Armory. Since you already know their raid times, a good time to get in touch with an officer is usually around 45-30 minutes before they raid. Even though they may be too busy to talk to you right away, it will allow you to arrange a time that is more suitable to them. This contact is a great way to learn more about the guild, and hopefully also make a good first impression.

5. Apply!
By now, you probably have a good idea on which guilds you are most interested in joining, and which ones also seemed to be most interested in you (contacting them goes both ways after all). I like to only apply to one guild at a time, but this is mostly personal preference. Now, your initial reaction might be to go to their website and start writing up the application immediately in your browser. No. Stop. Open up a word processor instead and copy the questions over. Now, sit back and think about the purpose behind the questions and why they are there. The guild wants to know more about you, so the more you tell them, the more you'll be able to stand out from the crowd. A lot of guild applications ask pretty simple questions; that doesn’t mean you need to write equally simple answers! If there is one thing you can take away from this guide it is this: taking the time to write multiple sentence responses will make your application stand out more than any other single thing you can do. I’m not even kidding. Receiving a well-written, eloquent application is so rare that any recruitment officer worth their salt would be doing their guild a disservice to ignore it (assuming that the answers are actually appropriate of course). As sad as it is, maybe one out of every twenty application fit that criteria, and that might be generous. I know it might feel a bit like an essay, but it is seriously worth the effort. I wrote my application to Vortex over the course of three days and I’ve been told that it’s one of the best they’ve ever received.

After you’ve taken your time to write up your outstanding application, it’s time to wait. Usually if you’ve done a good job, the wait won’t be very long, especially if you’ve already taken the time to talk to an officer beforehand and they were expecting it. Guilds differ on the next step of their application process, but if it’s not part of their policy, I like to request a talk on Vent and maybe listening in on one of their raids before I consider transferring over. I used to always run quick interviews on Vent with potential applicants when I was recruiting, and I find it helps to get a better feel on a person’s personality. Similarly, I spent some time talking to Vortex officers and listening in on a raid (if I remember correctly, it was their first One Light kill) before moving over to Turalyon.

If you haven’t heard back within 3 days, it might be worth dropping the officer you talked to a line. Some guilds have a policy of not getting back to applicants they’ve decided not to accept (I don’t agree with it personally and never did that myself, but I can understand it), but there may be other extenuating circumstances regarding the lack of contact. It definitely can’t hurt to ask; at the least, it shows further interest in their guild. If the guild denies your application, continue with the process with other guilds on your list. Eventually you should find one that is as much a match for you as you are to them.

Good luck and happy hunting!

1 comment:

  1. I was the first officer Rul contacted in-game, before he submitted an application. I was running around Dustwallow Marsh at the time working on my loremaster achievement, and he asked all sorts of questions once he introduced himself and verified that I had time to chat: including how flexible the the spot we were recruiting for was. We were looking for an elemental shammy and had three active healers at the time, but he still managed to wheedle his way in as a healer!

    I remember thinking at the time that he was questioning the elemental spec recruitment because he was afraid of being forced to heal. It was an assumption on my part after dealing with so many other dps recruits; you can imagine my surprise when he told us he'd rather be healing. Our holy pally wanted to swap over to ret at the time, so it worked out.

    So much of recruitment is about communication, and as long as you find a guild that could fit you and you feel you'd be happy in, it's well worth it to talk to them even if they aren't recruiting for your specific class/role.