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[Forum Tutorial] How To Write A Good Staff Application

Tony Pepperoni

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Since coming back to the staff team, I've been disappointed by almost every staff application I've read. Some of the people posting these applications are people who I personally believe could be quite a good fit for staff if given the chance, however the quality of their application has been inexcusable, so in response to this epidemic of less than ideal apps, I've decided to make a little guide on how I believe they should be written, as well as a few general tips to increase your chances at getting accepted. What makes me qualified to make this tutorial? In my time on this server I've posted 3 very successful applications and have never received anything but a +1. I have extensive experience in writing, as well as moderation, and as part of a few previous staffing responsibilities I was tasked with reviewing and deciding the outcome of staff applications, so I've seen my fair share of both good and bad apps.


Why Aim to Create a Good Staff Application?

When considering new staff members, the written application is only one of many factors. In my experience, my decision to +1 or -1 an application is mostly determined by the applicant's personality and my in game experiences with them. That being said, your written application is key for a few reasons.


Not everyone knows who you are - Whilst you should aim to be known by a large majority of the community prior to applying for staff, it's not realistic to expect that you can form a relationship and prove your personality and maturity with every member. For this reason, it is important that you make a good impression through your staff app so that those who don't know you that well can use your staff application as well as the vouches from other staff members to make a positive judgement about your character.


Your ability to be liked and your ability to be a good staff member are different qualities - In order to have a well received staff application it's a prerequisite that you are liked and respected by at least a majority of the community. That being said, there is little to no correlation between how much a person is liked and how well they would perform if given a position in the staff team. Your written application gives you a platform to prove that you are mature enough to handle the role's responsibilities and that you have the right intentions for wanting to become a staff member. This is why it is imperative that you do it right.


How to Answer the Fundamental Questions

Included in the staff application template are three fundamental questions. Whilst the other questions are important, they are far more black and white than these and only require you to fill out basic information and answer yes or no questions. I'm going to start by breaking down these three questions and telling you what content I believe they need to have in order to be answered sufficiently.


Why do you believe that you deserve this staffing position?:

In order to answer this question you should start off by giving a brief summary of what you believe to be your biggest and most relevant strengths. You don't need to be too specific or go in to too much detail as that is what the "What qualities will you bring to the staff team?" question is for. Example -

As I hope my application reflects, I believe that I am deserving of this position as I’m an active, long-time member of the Orbital community with a surplus of experience in moderation, a vast knowledge of the rules and an understanding of the role and its responsibilities that I believe not many others possess.


After this you should talk about your intentions for applying for staff. Are you applying because of a love or respect for the community? Are you passionate about helping others? It is a privilege to be given the opportunity to staff for this server, however at the end of the day it is still volunteer work. Talk about what makes you willing to give up your time and in game experience to moderate the server. In doing this you can establish a personal connection between yourself and the community, which shows that you are likely going to try your best to thrive in this role. Example -

I am eager to make a difference in this community, not by demanding respect and trying to complete as many tickets as possible, but by being an empathetic, respectful team player who strives to contribute to a positive experience for all members. This server has facilitated an environment where I've been able to have fun and make great friends. I understand that it is only possible through its amazing players, therefore, their in-game experience and safety is the most important thing. I believe that I can do an efficient and effective job at handling the responsibilities of this role and making a positive impact on the Orbital community.


Explain your ability to work as a team (Using examples):

This prompt is fairly self-explanatory and will vary a lot from person to person. You should start by explaining your ability to work in teams. Is it something you excel at? Great, then talk about how and why. Is it something that you struggle with? Talk about what steps you've already taken to improve your ability to work with others. Example -

I strive in team environments. One of the reasons I enjoy moderation so much is that I get to be a part of a team and form bonds with like-minded people who have all come together voluntarily not for any conventional gain, but rather to give something back to a community that they love and respect. From my experience, I also understand the importance of teamwork. Communication and a shared appreciation of what it means to create an enjoyable, inviting environment through moderation are essential to any community, both in and out of gaming.


After establishing your ability to work with teams, provide examples. If you're having trouble thinking of examples to use, some good places to start are sporting teams, previous / current jobs, group projects at school or university, previous staffing experience, or even experience within the server such as possessing a high role within the Police Department. Don't just mention that you were a part of that team, talk about your responsibilities and how you were able to work together to achieve something. If you can, try to list more than one example. Example -

I’ve been lucky enough to have a lot of experience working with others, and team environments are something I feel that I thrive in. There’s always an emphasis on teamwork when it comes to the moderation of online communities, and therefore through my time as a DarkRP admin I have become very comfortable with the idea that nothing I do as a staff member is a solo venture. It is imperative for the sake of treating people fairly and creating the right environment that things such as verbal warnings, punishments and rule changes are made apparent and discussed when necessary.


What qualities will you bring to the staff team?:

This question will also vary from person to person, as your strengths and qualities are subjective. Remember that it is important to keep the qualities you discuss relevant to the staff team and you should provide practical in game examples where possible. Try to list at least 3 qualities, along with a fairly detailed breakdown of why it is important in relation to moderating a DarkRP server. Example -

Professional and Organised - When moderating a DarkRP server in the past, it was a requirement that every punishment be logged in a discord channel with information such as Steam ID, Warn Reason and Proof. The constant repetition of punishment logging has caused me to become very organised and maintain a high standard, and through learning this process I gained valuable perspective on the importance of this practice and why it is imperative when maintaining an environment where the rules are respected and the punishment is fair and consistent.


Tips and Tricks

Read archived applications that have been accepted - This is a great source of inspiration and also gives you an idea of the volume and formatting that goes in to a successful application. However, you should never directly copy someone else's application, and whilst you can share their views and intentions, make sure you're remaining genuine in your application.


Word Count - When applying for staff, one of the requirements is not to be great at writing. Communication is important and knowing how to correctly format punishments / responses to applications as well as how act professional through the medium of text when required are essential skills, but that's a far cry from actually writing your own application. It is OK to be bad at writing, but you don't need writing skills to put effort in to an application. 100 words is the bare minimum to answer the main 3 questions in the staff application, however an exemplary application will aim for 150-200 words. A bigger word count does not necessarily equate to a better staff application, but it is not possible to adequately answer these questions in only 1-2 sentences.


Formatting - This is something that is very easy to get right, however it is often overlooked by applicants. Formatting can be the difference between a mediocre application and a good application or a good application and a great application, especially if you don't have the best writing skills. You don't need to go crazy with 12 different fonts and colours, but good grammar and a little bit of extra love goes a long way in showing that you've put the effort in and want your application to be taken seriously. Below is an example of what I mean.


Good Formatting -

Why do you believe that you deserve this staffing position?: As I hope my application reflects, I believe that I am deserving of this position as I’m an active, long-time member of the Orbital community with a surplus of experience in moderation, a vast knowledge of the rules and an understanding of the role and its responsibilities that I believe not many others possess.


Poor Formatting -

Why do you believe that you deserve this staffing position?:as i hope my application reflects i believe that i am deserving of this position as I’m an active long-time member of the orbital community with a surplus of experience in moderation a vast knowledge of the rules and an understanding of the role and its responsibilities that I believe not many others possess


Take Your Time - It's important that you take your time when creating your application. You only get one shot at it before a fairly significant cool down period, so make sure you do it right. There's no shame in taking a few hours or even a few days to write something that you are proud of, and in doing so you'll have given yourself the best possible chance to succeed. No one is expecting you to write a perfect application, the only thing that is expected of you is that you try your best and put in the effort that this role requires and deserves. There's a lot more you should be doing than just writing an application anyway, such as being active on the Discord/Forums, and getting a couple extra hours or days of in game playtime does nothing but good whilst you take that extra writing time.


Don't Give Up - If your staff application is rejected, that's OK! Take the time to read the feedback the community left on your post, apply that feedback as best as you can and reapply when you feel ready. Staff members often leave some really insightful criticism regardless of if they +1 or -1 your app, and how well you handle taking and applying criticism will speak volumes about your character and eligibility for the staff team when you decide it's time to reapply.


Common Mistakes

Activity is NOT a reason why you deserve to be a staff member - In order to become a staff member, it is a requirement that you are active on the server. It is fine to list an ability to be more active than what it expected of you or to be active at times that you believe are otherwise understaffed, however these are qualities and not valid reasoning as to why you deserve the role. Activity means nothing if the quality of your staffing is subpar, and in fact this would be more harmful than helpful. If you want to include something about activity in your application, put it in your answer to the "What qualities will you bring to the staff team?" question.


Addressing your warnings - I've seen both extremes when it comes to a player's warnings. If you have a lot of warnings on the server, do not feel the need to fixate on them and insist that you are not the same person you were when you got them. It's good to address these mistakes and talk about how you've learned from them, but hopefully you've let a significant amount of time pass since you've gotten warned on the server before you apply and therefore you can let the fact that you've gone a long time without any new warnings imply that for you. On the other side of the spectrum, if you have no warnings, don't fixate on that either. It's good if you have a lot of playtime and little to no warnings, and it will serve you well in your application, however you shouldn't expect to be praised for following the rules. The rules are the same for everyone and must be followed, therefore by doing so you are not surpassing anyone's expectations.


Be active on Discord and the Forums, as well as in game - Many applications are created from new forum accounts who have never posted here prior to creating their application. It is a requirement that staff members are active in all mediums of the community, including the Discord server and Forums. Therefore, in order to have a better chance at moving forward in your application process it is a good idea to start being active on these platforms before applying. Doing this will also ensure that more people know who you are and will leave a more memorable impression.


Have a substantial amount more than 4 days playtime - The staff application guidelines insist that you have at least 4 days of in game playtime before you submit an application, however I suggest that you aim to have at minimum 4.5 days. By having at least 96 hours on the server, a player should have had enough time to properly learn and understand the rules, as well as to make a somewhat significant name for themselves within the community. By applying with exactly 4 days, you're implying that you've barely managed to do that and only played on the server as much as you had to in order to be able to apply for staff. Playing for an extra 12 hours is not all that much, however it will make a big difference in how your application is received.


Final Advice

The most important thing to remember is that you should always be sincere in your application. Do not pretend to be someone or something that you're not, as it will not get you far. At the end of the day, not everyone is fit for moderation. I know that it's difficult, but you should try not to get discouraged if your application is not accepted. It's not a reflection of you or your worth, and as someone with a lot of experience with this kind of role, if you're genuinely passionate about helping people and making your community a better, safer place for others, you don't need a special role to do that. Keep doing the right thing with the right intentions, and with a little perseverance you will get there eventually. I look forward to reading your applications in the future. Remember, do it nice or do it twice. =)

Edited by Tony Pepperoni
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