Never hire ahead of the curve

"For junior staff it can take up to two years before they are typically ready to service clients directly - we have to hire ahead of the curve"

Simon Schnieders | Founder | Blue Array

How would you explain what “never hire ahead of the curve” means?


I think it means not projecting where business is likely to be in the future and not hiring for that future today.

What do you think about this ‘advice’?


For an agency that's ridiculous advice. We're always hiring ahead of the curve. Staff costs are at least 50% of turnover and it takes us a good three months to onboard people at Blue Array. For junior staff, two years before they are typically ready to service clients directly, so not hiring ahead of the curve would be disastrous for us and our customers. It would mean a substantially reduced level of service leading to a death spiral for the business.

Would you give this advice to other people?


God no.

If not, what alternative advice would you give to agency leaders?


Always hire ahead of the curve, project at least a full two quarters in advance (we project four quarters in terms of revenue and capacity).

Key moments Simon Schnieders hired ahead or behind the curve


Most recently as we head into recession we've not been backfilling leavers roles. This has been sensible anyway given the summer slowdown and what is likely to be a weak Q4 followed by a slow three quarters in ’23. We’re heeding the Blank of England's warnings of a recession but saw this coming month ago with a slowing in new business enquiries. We also saw a stark change in project to retainer work from Q2 this year where our 90% retainer moved to 70% with business uncertainty being the main factor.

Full bio of Simon Schnieders

Schnieders spent over a decade working at the coalface of SEO, heading up in-house teams at companies like Zoopla, Yell and Mail Online prior to starting his own agency, Blue Array.

Blue Array is proudly B Corp and is now the UKs largest specialist SEO agency.

In addition to heading up Blue Array, Simon also finds time to pass on his business expertise as an angel investor and advisor at, BakedIn and Sonic Jobs. He’s also the Trustee of a Reading homeless charity called ’New Beginnings’.

Humble promo of Simon Schnieders and Bluearray


From day one Simon understand the importance of being great at one single thing, in his and Blue Array's case SEO. They are hands down one of the best pure play SEO agencies in the UK. They care so much about the industry maintaining a good reputation, Simon and his team developed an academy to help people level up to the BlueArray standard. They also wrote two books on the topic. And set up a recruitment firm that helps get quality SEOs into companies that value their skills. These are all things most agencies talk about "we should do this and that" - but never end up doing. Simon and his team do!

Beyond that Simon spends a lot of time simply helping people. Whether it's at work or in a charitable form. A big heart and something I know he wants to pursuit after selling his agency. I'm constantly excited about "what next" looking at Simon's journey and recommend him to anyone looking to get more customers through SEO.

Daniel (Polymensa founder)

Explore other perspectives

Rob Pierre
Co-founder @ Jellyfish

"If you want to stay small and lean, then that's good advice"

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Alex O'byrne
Co-founder @ We Make Websites

"As with anything, it's not great to hire when you're desperate"

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Vineeta Greenwood
Co-founder @ Wholegrain Digital

"It’s not clear which curve you are hiring ahead of"

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Claire Hynes
Co-founder @ Mr.President

"The curve has a nasty habit of going walkabout"

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