My local dry cleaner’s specialty is breaking buttons. If your shirt has buttons, they will break them. Their 2-for-1 special is bring in two shirts, and we’ll break the buttons of at least one of them. In by 9:00, broken buttons by 5:00. Coming in a close second is burning collars. Don’t have ring-around-the-collar? No problem; we’ll burn one in for you. Consider it a shirt tattoo. Lastly, the icing on the cake is shirt ripping. Bring us your best, newest shirt, and we’ll make sure to pierce it. Heck it’s the South; everyone can use some extra ventilation.

Needless to say, I left them.  Switching was easy.  Why?  They were no longer relevant to me, I didn’t care, and I had options.

Today’s Question: What about you?  Are you staying relevant to the people that matter to your career?  If you ask your manager, would he/she switch you for someone else?  What about your company?  Your industry?  Are you staying relevant to them?

Careers are made by being and staying relevant to your boss, your company, and your industry.

Quick Test #1 – Being Relevant to Your Manager:
If your role in your company was no longer needed, would your manager still want to keep you?  Would she fight hard for you because she felt you were incredibly relevant to her success?  Can you connect what you do to your manager’s success?  Do you know how your manager defines her success, what her top 3 goals are?  Find out, and ensure your relevance to your manager.

Quick Test #2 – Being Relevant to Your Company:
Unfortunately, your manager has just been let go.  And a new one is on the way.  The new one has no clue who you are; he comes from the outside.  Will your company underscore to him that you’re critical to the company’s success?  Will he ultimately believe it after a few weeks of seeing your work?  Has your contribution been such that the company would be foolish to let you go?  Is it clear for all to see that you are extremely relevant to the company’s success?  Make sure you are, and maintain your relevance to your company.

Quick Test #3 – Being Relevant to Your Industry:
Your company looks like it may be sold to a competitor.  Or your company seems like it may be on the brink of going under.  If so, will you be sought out by leaders in your field or industry?  Have you created a well deserved reputation within your circle of influence (however big or small) as someone who contributes to their industry or field?  Are you viewed as someone who furthers the knowledge, expertise and capability of others and of organizations?  If not, when will you start?  Being relevant to your manager and company is good, but for extra security, be relevant to your industry.

Today, people can easily outlive the company they work for.  Most people’s careers will involve several, if not numerous, employers.  Some may argue that the key to a long career is possessing the right skills, knowledge, expertise, etc.  These are important, but not sufficient.  The key is using them in a way that you remain continuously relevant to your manager, your company, and your industry.  Think about this past year, and the change we’ve seen.  Now look forward 12 months, and ask yourself:  Will I still be relevant then?  What do I need to do to ensure that?