Never hire ahead of the curve

"This completely depends on the position of the person you're hiring for"

Vineeta Greenwood | Co-founder | Wholegrain Digital

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


Never hire ahead of the curve means that you hire when you have the need for the person. So you are doing it slightly reactively - just in time or more commonly normally after the point you need that person.

Hiring ahead of the curve could also mean hiring people with skills, ideas and knowledge that are not yet in demand. As you said in your first statement, this could be valuable if you are looking to develop a new product or service that is forward thinking and pushes the industry forward. For a company to progress, you need this mix of people who reliably deliver on what people want now, and people who look ahead and push ahead to create what they will want tomorrow.

What do you think about this ‘advice’?


This completely depends on the position of the person you're hiring for.

If you are looking for someone to lead the way and set standards and processes through experience but has one eye on the future then one aims to hire ahead of the curve as they candidates are going to be needed for the future action that is yet to be noticed by the market.

If you are thinking of standard service delivery - unless the sales pipeline is looking healthy, there is no point in hiring ahead of the curve.

It's clear advice, however this may not apply to all businesses and isn't clear about which curve you are hiring ahead of. The advice also doesn't acknowledge that whether you should hire ahead of the curve is dependent on the context. One size fits all advice is only right 50% of the time. A broad brushstroke of advice of this sort can confuse people on what is the right thing to do.

Would you give this advice to other people?


No, I don't think so. I'd rather ask what your current situation is and then give advice based on their situation. :)

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


Hire people who have a great attitude. Those who fit your culture and are competent at the job you are hiring them for. If you hire too quickly (especially when desperate) and don't take time to evaluate the right fit, you lose a lot of time in the future and it leads to more pain. Prior planning and early evaluation is the key.

And if you had to hire ahead of the curve, again, just ensure that the person you hire has a great attitude. This means they will make themselves useful in whatever way they can! Even if the future turns out different from what you predicted.

Key moments Vineeta Greenwood hired ahead or behind the curve


At Wholegrain, we have tended to be too late in recent times for most roles, but we have often aimed ahead of the curve in the knowledge that hiring the right person would take time. Our recent act of hiring a Digital Sustainability Lead is ahead of the curve because we are hiring someone to develop services in an emerging market that we are helping to create.

Vineeta Greenwood's bio

Together with her partner Tom, Vineeta Greenwood founded Wholegrain Digital, which is a WordPress agency based in London that BCorp certified and a 1% for the planet contributor.

Also, the creator of Website Carbon, Wholegrain team crafts beautiful & fast websites that are user-friendly and naturally low in carbon emissions. Day to day, Vineeta is the guardian of relationships with Wholegrain's mission-aligned clients.

Humble promo of Vineeta Greenwood and Wholegrain Digital

I've been impressed how much of Vineeta's and Tom's (her partner) values trickle into everything they do personally and in their business.  At the heart is all things sustainability. There are very few agencies that can claim to have written a book on the topic of sustainable web design and be London’s original sustainable WordPress agency. A great technology partner for you if your company deeply cares about sustainability.

Daniel (Polymensa founder)

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Claire Hynes
Co-founder @ Mr.President

"The curve has a nasty habit of going walkabout"

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Simon Schnieders
Founder @ Blue Array

"For an agency that's ridiculous advice"

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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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