12 - 14 November, 2017
Wigwam Resort - Phoenix, Arizona

The Future of Talent Acquisition: Is your Company Prepared for Change? An Interview with Sebastien Girard, Vice President of Talent Acquisition and Workforce Planning for Parkland Health and Hospital System

The Future of Talent Acquisition: Is your Company Prepared for Change?


Sebastien Girard 

Vice President of Talent Acquisition and Workforce Planning

Parkland Health


Sebastien Girard, Vice President of Talent Acquisition and Workforce Planning for Parkland Health and Hospital System, has an in-depth conversation with IQPC Exchange’s Kristen Schipfer-Barrett about the rapidly changing realm of talent acquisition. The old methods aren’t working anymore and companies need to be prepared. In this interview, Sebastien details what makes a positive candidate experience       – and what makes a bad one, the new ideals of what candidates are looking for in roles and companies, changes in the next 5 years, and his priorities for 2016-2017. 

KSB: What do you feel makes for a positive candidate experience?

SG: I feel that talent acquisition is becoming a customer service function. I might even go so far to say it’s almost a borderline sales function. When we talk about positive candidate experience, we need to think about the customer service we receive when we deal with a luxury outlet such as the Ritz Carlton. You need to feel extremely welcome, extremely desired, and extremely important. You want responsiveness. If talent is showing interest in your company, you need to make sure that you take care of them - quickly. Candidates want to make sure that you understand what they need. We are in an employee market now, not an employer market. Having that trend changing from what it was even just five years ago, it’s more of a “what’s in it for them” versus “what’s in it for the company” approach. Candidates expect that customer service approach and responsiveness. They expect to feel important and they expect transparency. I don’t think that a job seeker is expecting to get every job that he or she applies for but there is a desire to have transparency when things go well -or if things don’t go well and when it doesn’t, why. Candidates expect responsiveness even when it’s bad news. If I don’t get the job I don’t want to wait a week and a half to get the bad news. I want to hear it right away. 

KSB: I could not agree more. If somebody gets to the interview stage and things seem to go really well, but later after silence on the end of the employer the candidate learns that the job was awarded to someone else through another channel, such as social media, it can really leave a bad impression of that company. Which to me, is not a good way to go about the rejection since the candidate may be absolutely perfect for a different position with the company later on. Since they may have a bad recollection of the last experience, they may not want to work for your organization at all.

SG: You are so right. We are in a world of social media, connections, and networking. Maybe the person isn’t right for you today, but they may be tomorrow. Or, that person may have a connection that might be right for you. When you don’t follow up, or aren’t responsive enough, you are preventing yourself from accessing them, or their network. So as you said, if that person got a call saying, ‘I’m very sorry, you’re not getting the job,’ or ‘hired internally, but keep us in mind,” or “if there is someone in your network that you think would be good in another role, we’d love to hear from you.” I think that would make a big difference in the experience of the candidate.

KSB: Absolutely. It can be very frustrating for job seekers. They spend a great deal of time applying for positions and to not hear anything can be devastating to their confidence. 

SG: We are enhancing this type of approach at Parkland. This is one of our priorities. 

KSB: You said earlier that it is an employee’s market. What do you feel that many candidates are looking for in both a role and a company and why?

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SG: That’s an interesting question. I think I will start with what they are looking for in a potential boss. I think people are looking for a partner, not a boss. I think they are also looking for a space to enhance their career. Very often people say ‘Oh yes, that is the Millennials,’ and that’s just not true anymore. Candidates across all generations are going to look for a company that is going to maximize their skill-sets and is going to use them as experts. They will look for a company that is going to give them a voice. This doesn’t mean that the company has to do what they say, but just the fact that it listens to them is key. They are also going to look for a company that will acknowledge that in 2-3 years they are going to need something new. Hopefully, it will be with the same company, but in 2-3 years they are going to want more responsibility, or a promotion, or, at least, a move so that they can learn new skills. Continuous learning is absolutely crucial. If you don’t provide that, they’re going to go find it somewhere else. 
It’s funny when people tell me, “People are not stable these days.” It’s not true. They would be stable if your company was offering them challenges  that would enhance their careers every 2-3 years and experiences  that will both keep their brain busy and maximize their skills. If not, of course, they’re not going to be ‘stable’. We are in a world where everything moves very fast and people tend to get bored easier. 

KSB: I absolutely agree. Most people today are not fond of complacency. When an employee finds themselves becoming complacent they start thinking, “Hey, this company does not value me and it doesn’t want to develop me.” So, they definitely will look for a company that does those things. 

I also like the point that you made about it not just being about Millennials. I happen to also think that it’s not a Millennial thing. It’s a people thing. Everyone is looking for singular secret formulas to apply to different generations but, there just isn’t one. What motivates one person will not always motivate the next.

SG: It’s not just Millennials at all. I’ve been talking with a lot of Boomers around me and they know that they have the  option to go and do something else..  Boomers have a lot of experience and great adaptation skills. They know their value too! Every generation thinks like that now. 

KSB: Exactly. I don’t think that mindset is going to change anytime soon either. With all of these changes going on and changes in the ways that people work, what do you think the realm of talent acquisition will look like in 5 years?

SG: That’s both easy and tough to answer because everything is changing so fast. I think it’s going to be more of a sales function. There are even some companies that have talent acquisition not reporting to HR anymore, but instead, a standalone department or reporting to marketing. Talent acquisition is becoming less about “post and pray” and more about building employer brand awareness. This can be done through websites like Glassdoor or True Review. It’s becoming vitally important to have a social media presence on LinkedIn, Facebook, and the like. I really think that it’s going to be fewer job postings and more profile postings. For example, I will take one of our star nurses and write a piece about her and that’s what I would advertise in hopes that candidates may see themselves in the piece and be compelled to apply. It’s going to be way more aggressive for employers and more important to build an employer brand awareness to get the job seeker. If we do the math, the majority of Boomers are going into retirement in the next 5 years. That means there will be three times more people leaving the market than coming in so it will become a much tighter market. I also think that we will see a lot more third party technology. Hired.com is a site where employers are essentially bidding on employees. After only one year, it is doing phenomenal. Match.com wants to get into the employment market because it already has millions of members. It wants to attract employers and match them with people in its database. I won’t be surprised if there will be things like Tinder for job seekers.  I think that’s coming soon. 

KSB: I love the point about marketing. I can definitely see a role reversal happening.  It used to be the candidate’s “job” to market his or herself to the employer. Now the employer needs to convey why a candidate would want to work for the company. 

What are your priorities for 2016-2017?

SG: The new trend in the market and one of my major priorities is building a full workforce planning function. I really envision this as having a dot line with HR business partners, the talent acquisition team, and the learning department. Building workforce planning is going to be a one to two-year project. In the healthcare industry in general, not just at Parkland, there really hasn’t been a past challenge attracting people - just because it’s the healthcare industry. The need to adapt that other industries started feeling a few years ago, wasn’t fully felt by the healthcare industry. But, the industry is starting to feel it now too.. If I look into my strategic goal, I want to set up the structure of the department for success. Then I’d like to rewrite best practices to reflect the answers given to the first two questions. Right now, we need to enhance our job seeker’s experience. I also want to implement measurement tools to track our success so that we can be more agile and adapt to the market at the speed that it changes. 

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