In five minutes, I had 30 teenagers create a 2023 hiring Reel.

Let me explain. As all pool operators know, preparing for the summer season is a challenging, stressful process that takes many hours of planning. Recruiting good staff members and working toward a cohesive team never stops. We will start recruiting for next summer as soon as summer ends. The three ways we recruit for the best return are solidifying our current staff for the following summer, utilizing our staff members to recruit their friends, and using social media. For our social media push, the team sees it as an incentive to do well so they can be featured on our social media and help with Reel ideas. They have input and, therefore, are invested.

There is no denying a shortage of lifeguards in the United States this past summer. Some facilities had to stay closed this summer, while others offered shorter hours and limited services. During the early stages of the pandemic, lifeguard certification classes had to be canceled, meaning facilities didn’t train new individuals, and current lifeguards could not renew their certifications. Second, many lifeguards found new, higher-paying jobs when pools were closed and decided not to return to their previous positions. What is the best way to recruit employees? Our social media recruitment program included video content (Reels) in the winter of 2021, emphasizing displaying what our facility offers potential applicants. The management wanted all the seasonal positions filled, which required a proactive approach and an engaging unit to communicate with interested individuals. The Aquatics Center’s objective was to make you feel welcomed and comfortable when seeking employment.

I like to spend time with my staff and get to know each of them. During these conversations, I often heard their suggestions on what type of Reel I should do for our Instagram page. One afternoon I asked the lifeguard what Reel he would like to make. His idea was to recreate a walk-off celebration. Major League Baseball defines a Walk-off as “A walk-off occurs when the home team takes the lead in the bottom of the ninth or extra innings. Because the visiting team will not get another turn at bat, the game ends immediately, with the home team victorious.” The lifeguard was challenged to create the Reel during the next in-service and have at least 80% of the staff members participate. Over 95% of staff participated in the Reel. What they made would be considered a walk-off homer run!

The Lessons

1. Trust your staff.

If you empower your team to make decisions, they will be more engaged and fully invested in your vision.

2. Creating a family atmosphere is your No. 1 recruiting tool.

If your work environment is enjoyable, it will only bring out the best in your staff.

3. Set clear expectations.

If you assign tasks or responsibilities to your team, ensure that you are clear on those expectations.

4. A simple incentive goes a long way.

Celebrate the small and big victories with your staff. A simple thank you goes a long way.


Paul Macias is the Aquatic Supervisor for the City of Farmers Branch, TX, and a proud user of HydroApps.  Paul graduated from the Metropolitan State University of Denver with a bachelor’s degree in U.S. history and a minor in recreation services. In the spring of 2016, he graduated from the University of Illinois with a master’s degree in recreation, tourism, and management. He started his career in aquatics in 1998 in Colorado. He moved to the Dallas area in 2012. He is currently the Aquatics Manager for the City of Farmers Branch. Over the 20 years in the aquatics industry, Macias has had many focus areas, including operations, training, marketing, programming, and maintenance. His team has been honored as a North Texas Aquatics Association and Texas Public Pool Council Agency of the Year and as an Aquatics International Best of Aquatics award winner.

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