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Scarcity – Steve Ballmer, The LA Clippers and Recruiting

Written by:  Steve Sanders, VPGM Industrial Practice

A while back my boss shared a blog post about scarcity and it really resonated with me. The blog post discussed how Steve Ballmer of Microsoft had purchased the NBA franchise L.A. steve ballmerClippers for a heap of money and how many people think that he overpaid. The author of the blog was making the point that there are only 2 NBA franchises in L.A. and the result is that the commodity is very scarce. Steve Ballmer recognized this and snapped them up because the odds are slim that he will ever get another chance to own one of the NBA franchises in L.A.

I was thinking about how this applies to hiring and recruiting.

In most cases, my clients bring me into the search process after they have exhausted all their own resources via job postings, career board searches and maybe even some networking using a social media platform. By the time I get the call, the client has done their best to fill the role without engaging me. I like this as a recruiter because it meansscarcity2 there is urgency and the client is convinced that the only way to make the hire is to call in an expert search agent. In terms of scarcity, this also means that the person that the client is looking for is scarce in terms of their talent and experience.

I like this as well because it means the client is prepared to follow through with the steps in the process quickly, help me sell the opportunity and make an acceptable offer of compensation. If the client has a sense of urgency and is prepared to follow through and be a partner in the process, then it all boils down to my ability to find and engage the right people. At that point, I control my own destiny as a recruiter.

As a Hiring Manager, you need to ask yourself if you are committed to the hiring process before you call in a search agent. Once you engage someone like me then you are admitting that the person you need is a scarce resource and needs to be treated as such. Much like the L.A. Clippers franchise, you might have to overpay a bit because there are only a few of these people out there and just the fact that they are talking to you means that you need to treat them differently than someone whose resume came to you from a job board.

As a candidate in the job market, you need to think about what it is that you do or have done in the past that makes you a scarce resource. If you can identify what it is that makes you scarce then you can use that as a selling point when you are in job search mode. If you are happy in your job and not in job search mode, you need to at least be thinking about how to gain experience that makes you a scarce resource. If something changes in the future and you become more of an active searcher then this scarcity will determine your success or failure as you search for a new position.

I welcome your feedback, as well as, any questions/concerns that you may have about your career’s trajectory.  I would enjoy helping you as a Career Coach; who knows, perhaps our combined insight will unlock something better for you and your family.  You can find me on LinkedIn.  Also, you can learn more about TYGES at, on Twitter @TYGESInt, or here on our blog.

Our Mission is simple:

We’re here to make good things happen to other people.


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