AUSTIN, Texas — With summer around the corner, the Austin Parks and Recreation Department is trying to get ahead of the hiring boom as it recruits lifeguards.

Beginning this summer, the department will offer its lifeguards a starting salary of $15 an hour and accrued paid sick time, a first for the department.

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It's a move to attract teens in a competitive market, where other companies are offering similar wages and benefits for summer jobs.

"It's just great for a resume booster," aquatic program manager Ashley Wells said. "The leadership skills and the teamwork skills and the emergency response skills that a person will gain working with us ... we don't think that can be gained anywhere else."

At times, the department struggled to hire lifeguards last year, but it eventually met its goal, Wells said.

Out of the 650 lifeguards it needs to hire this year, the department has hired only 280 lifeguards. 

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"We are 35-50 ahead of where we were last year, but to keep that momentum going we do need to see an increase in registrations," Wells said.

After the interview process, candidates are offered a contingent job offer, as long as they have completed a lifeguard certification class and passed a background check. They are not paid for training.

The department is also hiring swim coaches, swim instructors, and pool cashiers.

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The first day of work is on Monday, June 3.

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