All of us have a story to tell; a story of our own; a story of our unique experiences, choices and dreams. Your life too has been fashioned by specific aspirations, special relationships, and particular situations and people: this is your story. Your application carries your story to the Admissions Committee members who read thousands of similar-looking applications. Since you do not want to lose yourself in a sea of applications, you must ensure that your essays rivet the attention of the committee to your application.
Ask yourself, what in my application will make the Admissions Committee sit up and take note. No one will remember a person who worked for xyz company and met all targets, but everyone will remember the person who did not let the adversity he faced in oil fields of conflict-torn Algeria affect his contribution at work. Who can miss that Chinese interpreter who endeavored to implement state-of-the-art technology in office or the boy who missed basketball to help his sister compose herself just when she was falling apart? You might not have worked in Algeria, may not know Chinese and may not have a sister but you do have plenty in your background to leave a similar message with the admissions committees.
What makes you unique?
Your experiences make you unique. Look at all the initiatives you took, problems you solved and achievements you created. Pick the ones that gave you meaningful insights. It could even be the industries you may have worked in or the roles you played at work. You could also stand out because of certain values you imbibed and strengths you developed. Of all the various abilities you possess and experiences you have had, which ones have influenced you the most and which ones explain who you really are or who you are likely to become?
Juggle these (and similar) questions in your mind until you are able to identify what makes you the unique person you are.
One aspect that is common to all successful applicants is their ability to portray themselves faithfully. Unless the admissions committee gets to know you well, they are certainly not going to offer you a place. To tell them who you are, you need to know who you are first. For your identity to emerge, you need to introspect.
After you identify what sets you apart or what makes you succeed, you will need to identify specific stories to project these traits. When you set out to portray who you really are, the one-line differentiator (similar to that of the guy who worked in Algeria) will make its way into the minds of the Admissions Committee members. When this happens, you are sure to make them take notice and turn their decision in your favor.
Chapter 1: Achievements
Chapter 2: Career goals and career progress
Chapter 3: Leadership and Teamwork
Chapter 5: Weaknesses, setbacks and failures
Chapter 6: Why MBA? Why XYZ school?
Chapter 7: Miscellaneous issues