Resumes: The Foundation of a Strong Application

Good essays start with a good resume. That might sound strange, since the standard 1-page MBA resume doesn't provide much room. However, as a structured list of your best academic, personal and professional accomplishments your resume should be the primary source for your essay topics. And as opposed to simply describing job duties, which people in similar positions will share, a stand-out resume should detail stand-out accomplishments, which only you can claim.

There is a big difference, for example, between this:
"Responsible for helping client improve international sales in food industry."
and this:
"Developed global manufacturing strategy for leading food company, managing two international sub-project teams; playing central role in developing client as key account"
The difference is that the second example includes detail showing more context and the importance of the accomplishment. It is almost a complete story in itself, only waiting to be fleshed out. This example also shows how you can measure intangible results. While the strategy may not have borne fruit yet, the client company is pleased enough to consider an ongoing relationship. Not every accomplishment can be developed to this level and some can be refined even more. The point is to go beyond mere description and develop your resume as an overview of all the good stuff that is forthcoming in your essays and interviews.
Developing the resume is the first step I take with my clients, to give us both a common foundation and understanding of their background. Having my clients discuss their accomplishments also helps me begin identifying what I call their "core skills" - the tools they rely on consistently to be successful in diverse fields, not necessarily just work. Knowledge of these deeply personal traits is invaluable during all phases of the application process.
Consider the following line:
"One of youngest Senior Consultants, recognized as leading project manager especially for global-scope or troubled projects; excel in settling conflicting interests."
With this kind of insight on a resume, an admissions committee understands not only the nature and import of this person's accomplishments, but also "how" and "why" she was successful. Now if the client faces an essay topic (or even an interview question) such as, "Describe your most significant professional accomplishment. Elaborate on the leadership skills you displayed, the actions you took and the impact you had on your organization," (Ross, 2008-09 Application) the client has a fantastic answer: 
"My leadership, centered on my ability to settle our conflicting interests, was key to my team's success."
If you were paying attention, you would have recognized in these samples the potential for integration and consistency among the resume, essays and interview. This synergy creates an incredibly powerful application "portfolio" that will be a joy for an admissions committee to read. And it all started with the resume.