Answered by Phil, Hiring Expert at Merck & Co., Inc., on Thursday, April 5, 2018
If I were to pick five top attributes, they would be 1) readability; 2) education / major; 3) extracurricular activities; 4) research or relevant experience; 5) spelling and grammar.
1) Readability - most recruiters look through resumes really quickly. If I can't easily find what I need to see within a few seconds, it's likely that your resume won't be glanced at.
2) Education / Major - many times, I'm looking for specific skill sets, and major will give me a general idea of your background and experience.
3) Extracurricular Activities - here, I look at quality rather than quantity: were you a leader? Were you deeply involved in 1 or 2 groups vs. superficially involved in 5 or 6?
4) Research - many of the positions that I recruit for are science-heavy and are looking for students with some sort of research experience. Including this on your resume is helpful when I'm looking through them quickly.
5) Spelling / Grammar - I receive so many resumes with grammatical and/or spelling errors - this really tells me that you didn't take the time to proofread your resume. Have a few different people look at it to make sure there aren't any mistakes and that it makes sense.
Best of luck to you! -Phil