Non-transferable skills

Do you have skills specific to your industry or even to your employer that you wouldn’t be able to use in (most) other jobs?

In economics, these are called non-transferable skills. It can be lucrative to specialize, but if most of your skills are non-transferable, that can also have a downside.

What if you’re not fully satisfied with your current job or your line of work, but you don’t have specific skills you could apply in other jobs?

If this is your situation, you might feel that there are not many other opportunities available to you. You might develop a scarcity mindset. And when you get into a mindset of scarcity, it’s easy to forgo promising opportunities just because you’re scared of the risk.

For example, you might worry that you could not easily find a new job if you “lost” your existing job. So you push back less on your employer when they ask you to work longer hours or on projects you don’t like as much.

To restore your bargaining power and to move back to a mindset of abundance, there are two things I would recommend that you do.

First, trust yourself. You are smart and capable. If you were to lose your job, you could find a new job—probably even a better job than your current one. If you need help convincing yourself that this is true, ask the people around you: do you think I could get a good new job within a reasonable amount of time?

Second, increase your savings. While you could definitely get a new job quickly if you had to, it is much more pleasant to look for jobs—and to negotiate with employers—when you don’t need a job. By building up your savings, you give yourself some piece of mind and you increase your bargaining power when negotiating with your existing employer or with a potential new employer.

Not sure how to start saving? Read my explanation of index investing.

Yours,

— Peter

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