There comes a time in every raider’s life when they find themselves faced with a daunting challenge—writing an application to a guild that they would actually like to join. In stark contrast to those guilds that you join as a friend-of-a-friend, THAT GUILD is one that you want to impress. And whether it’s a casual or hardcore guild, or anything in between, chances are you’ve approached this problem with some trepidation, knowing that the chance for general douchbaggery is fairly high. Fear not though, fellow healers, and know that there are a number of things you can do to help out your chances of making it past the velvet rope into THAT GUILD.
Over the course of the past 3 years, I’ve prepared a number of applications (for myself and my friends) and I’ve reviewed countless more on behalf of the guilds that I’ve been a member of. As an author, I suffer from excessive editing, and as evidenced by my posts on this blog, brevity is hardly my strong point. As a reviewer, I confess to having been unnecessarily harsh on some (I’ll spare you the complete listing my pet peeves) and probably not harsh enough on others.
But, similar to when I led hiring efforts for a former employer and then wound up on the interview side of things a couple years later, I’ve picked up on some commonalities while “sitting across the table”. And, surprisingly, the red flags may or may not be what you think. So, to give you an edge for your next guild application (Cataclysm is right around the corner, people!) here are a few insider tips from someone who has climbed up the ladder.
1. Invest some time
If you are applying to THAT GUILD, then I think it’s safe to say that whatever your motivations, you’d really like to join their team. So just like a teacher or a boss wouldn’t be satisfied with some scratch notes written on a napkin in lieu of a report, so too will a guild be turned off by an app you threw together on your iPhone while on the subway. When it comes to applications, the adage, “you reap what you sow” is spot-on.
In the construction industry, this is a term used to describe bidders who are disqualified from the bidding process by virtue of the fact that they failed to follow directions. (Hey look, a parallel!) No matter how qualified the bidder, if they exclude information that was expressly requested, don’t follow formatting instructions or forget even a mundane but requisite piece of information—they get kicked out before they’re even considered. So, second rule of writing an application—answer the questions in their entirety. If special formatting or links are required, put them in. If they want bunnies, give them the entire rabbit warren. But the easiest way to get the boot before you even get your foot in the door is by being non-responsive.
3. Length and quality
I like to write (yes, duh); you may not. That’s completely okay. Chances are, your readers are probably not in the market for a novel on your WoW experiences, so striking the balance between a one-word answer and a paragraph-long stream of consciousness will be the challenge. But while length may be determined by personal preference, quality is not. Always make sure that you answer the questions as succinctly and precisely as you can, and if they need further detail, you can include that in a subsequent section.
4. You aren’t apping via IM or Twitter
Teh most anoying thng is when ppl dont take tiem to go thru spellchek or spell out stuffz. lol. Applications aren’t the place for showing off your texting or shorthand skills or to demonstrate your deep appreciation of 1337 sp33k. So, give consideration to your readers and use your writing skills to demonstrate that clear communication isn’t something beyond your reach.
5. The gear/experience/knowledge balance
While most players consider these to be unique and stand-alone qualifications, chances are they are intertwined in your prospective guild’s eyes. While the ideal applicant has an abundance of each of the 3, most guilds realize that they don’t exist in the ideal world. So, what most aim for is a balance; what you lack in one you should make up in the others. In Aftermath, we really didn’t care about the state of the player’s gear, only that he knew what he was doing as far as selection, gemming, and enchants. Likewise, someone who wrote a very intelligent and thorough app would be looked upon favorably even if they only started playing at the beginning of Wrath. Beware though—great gear will seldom make up for a deficiency in the other 2 qualities; while you can’t help RNG, experience and knowledge are generally considered in your area of influence.
6. Healing Parses
First and foremost, never supply a guild application without a link to your own healing parses. Part of what a guild is looking for before they even invite you is how you perform in a raid environment. And while healing parses will only show a glimpse of you as a player, they are often used to gauge your situational awareness (through damage taken, survivability and death reports), your class knowledge (through personal performance statistics), healing style (through overall spell distribution), and capacity (through HPS and overall healing). When including your parses, I’d also recommend noting what your healing assignment was or if there were any special conditions that evening (noting only those that don’t sound like excuses for bad performance). Keep in mind that if THAT GUILD is determined enough, they will find parses where you screw up, because hey, you are human. The point is to give them more good examples than bad.
7. Know thine Google results
Of all of the guild sites I visit in my spare time, CUTIES ONLY rates pretty high for one reason only: those guys know how to research. In fact, I’m quite convinced they own the interweb and all its data, they’re that good. If you posted a hate-filled rant about a former guildmaster or went down in EJ Banhammer history, they will call you on it and so might THAT GUILD. So, before you go listing your email address, personal information, alt names, etc. know what questions might be floating out there about your Google results.
95.67% of statistics are made up on the spot and have no basis in fact; attendance estimates on apps are no exception. So instead of the typical “I plan on making all raids unless something unexpected happens”, cite your attendance in past guilds as a reference for how reliable you are. Maybe I should have placed this a bit higher on the list, but my assumption is that you’re applying to a guild that fits your personal schedule; no matter how good the guild, if you can’t make raids, don’t app.
9. “I always give 100%”
By far and away, this my biggest pet peeve when reviewing applications. I don’t think you’ll find a person out there who’s interested in joining a competitive guild and actively tries to screw things up during attempts, so this sentence isn’t doing anything to sway people in your direction. If anything, when you make this type of statement, you open yourself up to someone who’s driven enough (or bored enough) to prove you wrong. So unless you operate at peak performance consistently substitute in an explanation of how you work at improving your character and performance. If you do include this cliché, be prepared to take some serious heat on why you’re 10 over the hit cap, are meeting every socket bonus, have a non-epic or substandard enchant, let Inner Fire drop off, have 85% ES uptime, or weren’t flasked or food buffed for an entire raid.
10. Being carried
You may think you’re being witty when you say “my back hurts from carrying everyone in my former guild” but what you’re really showing is that you’re an oblivious asshat. Most guilds have varying levels of skill (yes, even those at the top), and the insightful player knows that at one point, those other people were supporting him as he bumbled about. Everyone makes mistakes; claiming otherwise on an app is only good at demonstrating that you will try to shirk blame with THAT GUILD as well. Find another way to tactfully make your case, or just avoid this type of sentiment entirely.
11. The Pre-App Chat
While I’m always slightly divided on the pre-application chat, I generally tend to believe that it goes a good way to talk with leadership before you put in an application. In the instances where I have gotten in touch with an officer or leader beforehand (points of contact are usually specified on the application or the instructions), I’ve generally come away with a better understanding of the guild and their needs, and a couple of times learned they weren’t in the market for a Resto Shaman even though their recruiting needs said otherwise. While it’s not requisite to touch base beforehand, provided that you do it tactfully and intelligently, it can provide a slight boost to your chances of acceptance.
12. The rule of 3 days
Now I’m ready to be disproven on this point, but from my experiences on both sides of the velvet rope, I’m going to stick my neck out and say … if you haven’t had a valuable comment on your application within 3 days of posting it (not 3 hours, you forum trolls!) then chances are the guild isn’t that psyched on you or there is something else being considered. The something else could be the fact that they just accepted another trial or maybe they’re reconsidering if they actually need another healer, so don’t automatically assume it’s you. But, at 3 days if you haven’t had an officer response it’s probably best to starting looking for THAT OTHER GUILD.
Ultimately, at the end of the application process, you will be faced with an even more daunting prospect—letting go. Even if you craft the most brilliant and informative application possible, there is always the possibility that you might not be accepted. (Even qualified applicants get turned down from time to time.) On the other hand, if you are accepted into THAT GUILD, you will be faced with the additional challenge of letting go of the ways of your previous guild and adopting those of your new raiding team.
So with that, best of luck in your application writing efforts and may your new guild be everything you had hoped. (And if not, hey, at least you got in some practice for Round 2!)