18 December, 20231 minute read

Don’t hire for next quarter

For the majority of companies it is a bad idea to hire software engineers for projects coming up within the next quarter. For most companies it’s even a bad idea to hire software engineers for projects coming up on a longer time frame.

Exceptions apply, but in general I think you should be looking to hire engineers to solve problems you forecast to hit in about a year’s time.

Right from the get go adding new software engineers can take ~2-3 months to find suitable candidates who fit in with your company culture. After they start they generally have an onboarding period of ~3-6 months in which they add limited value.

These are long timeframes. If you’re wrong about the specific problem you run into a year from now or your strategic objectives shift a little then that’s fine. At that point you have someone who’s in tune with your culture and who’s experienced with your development environment and tooling, familiar with your company’s roadmap, and is already budgeted for. You have all the time in the world to pivot and find a way to maximize value from your hire.

On the other hand if you’re wrong about a short-term need then you are stuck. Terminating an employee is difficult emotionally, and depending on your jurisdiction it can be extraordinarily complicated legislatively. Hiring for the short-term front loads all of your risk, and that’s almost never what you want to do.

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