I recently worked on a paper on L'OREAL talent acquisition practices, and realized they actually have a very lean, opportunistic and individualized approach: hiring the best fast, and projecting them inside the Group.

When asked about the main HR challenge L'OREAL was facing, Frédérique Scavennec, VP of Global Talent Acquisition, replied me: “Today, it’s mostly you who choose your company, not the other way round. I’m not fighting against Danone, Nestle, Dior, or Chanel anymore. I’m now fighting against Google, Microsoft, Blablacar, or Uber.

I'll write later about the key competencies on which L'OREAL is hiring, but except for positions requiring very specific skills such as finance or IT, they do not have any job descriptions. They do a lot of exploration starting from the person: they discover a talent, and then try to find a good position for her/him, acting as what they describe as a “business driver” who anticipates business needs. So very early in the process, it’s all about projecting a profile somewhere inside the Group. “If you want to move walls, you move walls.” L'OREAL always finds a solution for high potentials they are afraid to lose. It’s a continuous “ping-pong game” between the Group and the collaborator to define where they go together.

If HR can be lean in a 80,000-people organization, I am sure lean startups can organize HR.