I’m writing this on the eve of one of the most major milestones in my career. Tomorrow is my last day working for the company I’ve spent 13 years learning my trade.

Over the past year, AOL has transitioned from a subscription revenue model to an advertising driven source. Unfortunately, it hasn’t proceeded as planned. In an effort to reduce cost to compensate, approximately 2000 positions were eliminated. This included me and the majority of my team. We extended ad support into our video applications, built a stable, easily maintainable and extensible system. In a time of cost cutting, it was a logical business decision based on the state of the product and the direction of the company.

That’s my official exit statement and I’m sticking with it. This isn’t a shock. I received notification two months ago and have been on transition (a “transie”). This is just the first I’ve felt like posting about it.

I’m sure it goes without stating that this has caused me to reflect back over my past accomplishments, failures and where I’ve been… my professional trials, tribulations, conquests, losses and . Throughout the years I’ve served under people I respect, some I liked, others I mostly tolerated. I’ve learned from some amazing mentors and learned even more from some unbelievable “anti-mentors”. I’ve managed multi-million dollar projects and some of the best IT people I know.

All of this has culminated in a two page summary called my resume. It’s challenging picking the top, most interesting, representative items to describe who I am. To a large degree, the process was story telling. I’m a firm believer that a good story is plot driven, not character driven. Don’t spend 3-500 pages telling me what someone thinks. Show me who they are by what they do. Resumes are the same way. Introduce your character briefly in the beginning then spend the majority of the space showing who they are by what they accomplished.

There’s a mild controversy over whether you should describe your career objective or what you could do for a prospective company. Generally speaking, you only get 30 seconds with your resume to get your foot in the door with a hiring manager. Speaking as a past hiring manager, I completely agree with this. When reading a book, if the first few chapters of a book don’t pull you in, you will quit reading. Reading a stack of resumes is the same thing. So you need to decide whether you use the opening to tell the company how you will help them (salesman), what you are looking to accomplish in the next stage of your career or some combination of both. I think it’s more belief than fact on what the right approach is. If you can’t manage a unique, clear statement on your objective, I would suggest sticking with the “salesman” approach.

So what did I do? Well, I’m still working through my objective statement. I’ve talked it through with several different people through a complicated process I like to call “interviewing”. I think I’m almost ready to take a crack at writing it down and when I do, I’ll share it with you here.

So what’s next? Well, tomorrow I’ll finalize those last milestones in that resume. There won’t be anything more to add until I enter that next phase. I’ll turn my key and badge and parking pass into one of the remaining “perms” (permanent associates), take my last box out to my truck and head to the local bar to meet up with past, present and future co-workers for a sort of wake that’s become tradition around here.

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