When I was a fledgling recruitment officer for my friends-and-family-guild-turned-casual-raiding-guild, I had no effing clue as to what I was doing. My GM and his wife tasked me with getting more people so we could move onto 25-man content, so that was the goal I focused on. I thought about all of the reasons people cited for leaving the guild I was in on my Alliance server; this was back at the beginning of TBC and everyone wanted more raiding prospects. So, that’s how I crafted my first recruitment post: “We’ve got raiding! We’ll even help you get geared so you can catch up with the core group! We got all the bells and whistles without being a snooty, stuck up, high-end raiding guild!”
(Disclaimer: No, I’m not saying all high-end, hardcore raiding guilds are stuck up and/or snooty. But ask anyone on Runetotem if they remember the guild “tys” and you’ll see why it was such a point of contention. For a while, the competition on our realm wasn’t just about progression, but to see who could be bigger asshats, too.)
Boy, did I have a way of playing up my guild. Sometimes I wonder if I should have gone into a career in advertisement.
And that’s when I learned my first lesson in guild recruitment: “Never ever ever ever recruit people solely based on filling up a raid team.”
The guild was flooded with people whose collective scruples could fit into a matchbox with the matches still inside. There were people who used us for gear and then moved on for “bigger, better prospects.” Then there were the people who thought they deserved this n’ that without having to put in work. We had people who demanded things from crafters, and from the vault later on, but left when they discovered they had to contribute something. There were the inconsistent people— here today, gone for the next few scheduled raids, then demanding to know why they didn’t get a raid invite the following week. And, of course, there were the people who left if they weren’t raiding immediately after the guild invite.
My original Horde guild on Runetotem imploded on itself when WotLK came out. The story behind the eventual fallout is a long and painful one; it’s one I’m not about to indulge in right now. When I started writing the recruitment post for the new guild, built from the remains of our core raiding team, I was brutally honest with myself and anyone who wanted to read it. I didn’t pretty it up with alluring quips that promised riches and loot, adventure and fame.
Instead, I focused on one thing: the community. My community.
You know the old saw, “You really don’t know who your friends are until you see who’s left standing by your side after a crisis”? It’s absolutely true. Our guild vault was pitifully empty, even after we pooled our personal stores together. Raiding wasn’t going to happen anytime soon. No loot, no riches, no fame; adventure was something we usually created on our own. What we had, at the end of the day, was one another. In the face of bleak circumstances— in terms of your “usual” guild necessities in WoW, anyway— we took solace in our tiny band of heroes, and we didn’t despair.
I was suddenly reminded of an analogy my mother used back in the day: “No matter how pretty your house is, no matter how expensive the materials you use, it will all collapse into ruin if you don’t have a good foundation.”
The essence of the recruitment post was simple: “Looking for a community to join? Seeking a home? You’ve come to the right place.”
Talking about my guild as a community of like-minded people, family, and friends was easy, since I didn’t have to figure out ways to doctor up my statements. I just had to tell the plain ol’ truth. The progress was gradual, subtle, snail-paced slow. We spent months adding people one by one. Sometimes, we went through recruitment droughts where no one even looked at our recruitment post. And that’s perfectly okay, we said. It was a matter of quality over quantity. Turns out there were quite a few people out there who were looking for a community, where raiding and everything else were just perks, extras. We had people who looked for casual raiding, and people who could care less about raiding, like Jim.
We weren’t out for world firsts, or even realm firsts. We weren’t competing with anyone. We were here to have fun and play a game, unfettered by worries over whether we’re going to beat some guild or other. I often took the time to establish personal in-game contact with the majority of our new recruits, filling my chat screen with purple text most nights when I logged in. Each guild officer had their speech, the things they thought important in a new recruit; we kept one another apprised so there was always at least a handful of us who knew what was up. It wasn’t a perfect system; no system ever is, but it worked.
By the time we killed Arthas, we suddenly found ourselves #2 on the realm for 10-man progression, and we honestly hadn’t been trying for placement.
Time keeps going, the game changes, and life keeps throwing stuff at us, be it new babies or a change in jobs. So we change, too, like renovating a house. But the foundation remains the same: our core beliefs, the idea that community comes first and that we’ll never forsake fun in the name of personal gain. Names and faces are hardly the same as they were three years ago. I’ve long since relinquished being in charge of recruitment when I lacked “sitting in front of computer at work” time.
We’ve built a house, and it’s become a home. Guildmates become friends who, in turn, have become extended family.
We have our peace of mind, unshakeable and undaunted, no matter what’s to come.