Start Planning Your 2023 Recruitment Campaign NOW!
2022, the year operations were supposed to return to normal post-COVID. Well, we know now that 2022 is anything, but normal. With many facilities being closed in 2020 and some even into 2021, our normal aquatics applicant pool was forced to find other job opportunities. Our primary concerns as operators shifted away from COVID and towards finding enough staff to support bare-bone operations. Retention rates suffered, diminishing the super valuable “word of mouth” recruitment. Add on top of that a raging job market where the opportunities are endless and potential applicants can get paid a lot more next door for doing a lot less work. You can say the struggle was real. We can be certain that the Aquatics job market will need time to heal, and agencies will have to work to rebuild staff cultures and recruitment strategies.
Every November (after my much-needed decompress from the summer season), I would take a couple of days to brainstorm a recruitment campaign for the next season. Our summer applications always opened in December, so by starting in November, I thought I was ahead of the game (silly me). I would sit at my desk with all these creative ideas, and then I would try to find pictures to bring those ideas to life. I would search and search and never be able to find something that spoke to what our facility had to offer. At the time, my facilities were surrounded by about 5 other facilities – all within a couple of miles radius. We were all fighting for the same high school kids, and it was important to me to show through my recruitment campaign why MY facility, despite a lower pay rate, was the one the kids should come work at. Each year I struggled to produce a recruitment campaign that significantly aided my in-person recruitment efforts. I may have had a picture of a lifeguard, but I forgot to snag one of the cashiers. How am I going to promote that position effectively? Or my competition started to use reels – how cool - I don’t have any footage to make any of my own. Each Fall, I became frustrated with myself for not grabbing "that" picture. Now, if you are a year-round facility, you can adapt, right? Take some of your year-rounders out to your seasonal facility and snap some photos. But if you solely run seasonal facilities, how are you going to capture effective content that speaks to your staff culture and employee experience when summer is over?
The truth of the matter is that your agency’s marketing efforts are more important than ever! Goodbye are the days of putting out a flyer and a few social media images. What are you going to do to engage that 16-year-old or college kid? Why are they going to spend their summer with you and not in the A/C at Walmart making more money? Whatever your message may be, it needs to be intentional, and that starts will planning your 2023 marketing needs NOW!
If you are a seasonal facility, I know what you’re thinking, I haven’t even gotten through this summer, and the last thing I want to think about is next summer. I get it. It’s hot, you're burned out. Your college kids are beginning to leave, and as school activities begin, your staff goes. Maybe you’ve heard the phrase, next year’s recruitment starts with this year’s retention. Well, how about…next season’s marketing campaign starts with this season’s content? As recruiting staff continues to be a struggle, a well-developed marketing campaign is essential. I encourage you to dedicate some time, if only a little, to ensure you have a stockpile of content ready to go for next season’s recruitment campaign.
Below are some ways to ensure you get lots of great content before summer 2022 is over and help your 2023 recruitment campaign:
Plan a “Social Media” Shift
That’s right, pay them to help build next season’s social media content. It’s worth it! Schedule a 1–2 hour shift where you have a handful of employees from each position. The dedicated time is a great opportunity to take group photos and stage position-specific photos you can never seem to capture during the chaos of the day. If your staff is anything like mine was – they shied away from the camera during shifts because they were too sweaty, or their hair didn’t look good that day. This allows staff to come with their hair, make-up, etc. done how they want, making them more willing to flash a big smile.
Bring in your Organization’s Photographer
Do you have an agency photographer who comes and takes photos of your facility in action for program guides, board presentations, etc.? Ask them to take photos of your staff! Invite them out to capture your staff in action at in-service or team-building events. Many organizations have a marketing team or contracted photographers on staff that are underutilized. Don’t be afraid to ask! Give the photographer your vision and be specific with the photos you want. Professional photos go a long way in making your recruitment campaign look high quality and attractive to future employees. Professional photographers can also provide you with high-quality images that don’t blur when blown up (think BIG banners, etc.).
Your agency doesn’t have a photographer? What about nearby college students studying photography who needs to build a portfolio, that staff member who has an eye for great photos, or maybe you have a swim lesson parent who is a photographer on the side? Think outside the box!
Add a “Reel” Making Group to Your In-Service
The generation we are recruiting to is no longer on Facebook, they’re on Instagram – specifically reels. Reels can seem daunting, but don’t feel like you must be an expert on making them; your staff already is. Utilize them! At your next in-service add a reel-making group to your skills rotation. Challenge them to apply the skills they just learned in the previous rotation or use it as a break time from a fitness activity. It’s a GREAT team-building activity, and staff is more willing to share the items they had a part in making. Don’t have time to make full reels? Capture footage and make the reels later. If you aren’t familiar with how to do reels – check out this article.
Create a Recruitment Video
If you have the budget, contract a videographer. Have staff speak about their experiences working for you. The City of Denton has a great professional recruitment video from this past season, check it out!
No budget? Put the task back on the staff! You may be surprised what this technologically savvy generation can come up with (Pro Tip: give guidelines). Show the videos at the end-of-season banquet, party, guard games, etc. They have fun, and you now have great content for next season.
Take & Collect Photos
Your staff is already taking them – collect them. Provide a shared folder or encourage them to send you appropriate photos at the end of the season. As operators, we always have our phones on us. Don’t forget to take the pictures! Check out these tips on how to take better photos on your smartphones.
Think ahead to what you might need images for:
- Website – application landing page
- Large outdoor banners
- Standing recruitment banners
- Christmas card
- Printed activity guides
- Social Media (a couple months’ worth)
- TikToks, Reels, Posts, Stories
Pictures every facility should have:
- Position specific pictures (Lifeguards on stand, cashiers at register, Pool Attendant’s dispatching slides, management team testing chemicals)
- Pictures of staff grouped together – show off your facilities culture
- Pictures that display workplace diversity
- This generation expects diversity in the workplace; by doing so, you are appealing to applicants
- Lifeguard training (in-service & classes)
- Facility pictures – show off where they get to work
- Culture images – fun incentives you do (guards of the week, pies in the face, staff parties, working special events
- Team building pics – do you have kickball or movie nights? Show off the fun they will get to have working for you
- Photos that look good horizontally, vertically, small, big, some with lots of background space, some close-up, etc.
- Do you send a Holiday card to last season’s staff? Grab a Holiday-themed pic
Set your future self, up for success by thinking ahead to future needs and creating a library of content to pull from. Remember that you have a team of social media gurus “aka teenagers” who know what future applicants are looking for. Utilize them! Your future self will thank you!
Looking for more ideas, check out our HydroLogic Blog here!
As the Customer Relationship Manager, Madison combines her passion for serving others with her extensive knowledge as an Aquatics operator to provide Aquatics Professionals with helpful tools to make their facilities run more efficiently and effectively.
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