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.

“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.” That's what Frédérique Scavennec, VP of Global Talent Acquisition, told me when I asked her about the main HR challenge L'OREAL was facing.

I'll blog 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 him/her, 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. On top of that, to Scavennec, “if you want to move walls, you move walls.” For high potentials they are afraid to lose, they always find a solution. It’s a continuous “ping-pong game” between L'OREAL 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.