Clémentine Laurent is the Human Resources Manager at Cosmo Tech. She answered our questions from her office in Lyon.
What is a typical day for the human resources manager at Cosmo Tech?
Let me start by saying that there is no such things as a ‘typical day’ in a startup. My priorities can and do change at any time depending on the requirements of the business and plans can quickly become obsolete as opportunities arise. That said, as the HR Manager my broad responsibilities remain the same no matter the shifting sands of the startup scene. I am responsible for recruiting new Cosmonauts, training, administration, and all the other HR functions that a growing business demands. I work closely with the administration team and with the executive management team, too, and I spend time each day working with our Office Manager to help ensure that the Cosmonauts are feeling happy and well in the office. Another important part of my job is being a sounding board and a listener for any and all Cosmonauts who need to talk through a personal or professional issue. It’s so important for HR to be approachable and I make sure to find time for the team members who need someone to talk to.
What is the biggest different between working in HR as a startup and working in HR at a big company?
I’ve always worked in HR for small companies and one of the reasons why is because, unlike a big company, I actually know everyone! It’s great to be able to work with a team that you know by name and where everyone is more than just a file or a number. In a startup the HR teams are necessarily smaller than in a big company and your tasks are incredibly diverse. I have a chance to be involved in every part of the HR program and I get to work with all of the different teams in the company instead of being assigned to just one area of a larger group. In a startup you can have a big impact and almost immediately see the impact of your actions on the team members and the company as a whole. In a sense, working in HR in a startup is something like an adventure that calls upon all your skills and experience every day instead of a grind that locks you into a single area or into a single HR focus.
What advice would you give a jobseeker in the technology sector?
In my role I get a chance to read a lot of resumes and look over a lot of applications. I see what works, and what doesn’t. I think, as a first step, a jobseeker has to prove they have the skills to do the job but they need to have more than that. See the skills are a start but they also need to have a personality and the soft skills to integrate into a growing team. It’s also important that as well as demonstrating that they can do the job, they demonstrate how they’ll have an impact, how they’ll contribute to the company. What I’m looking for is passion, what I’m looking for is drive.
Doing research before applying for the job is important, too. Before applying to a startup a jobseeker should make sure they are applying to work on a project, product, or team that will motivate them to do their best work and advance in their career. Research will also allow a jobseeker to determine whether their values and the company’s values are a good match. That’s especially important in a startup where cultures can differ enormously between companies working on similar concepts, products, and services. The closer the values align, the more likely a jobseeker will find a positive and rewarding working environment at that startup.