Careers

These leaders dish out what they’re looking for in a new hire

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Whether you're looking to hire a new employee or hoping to switch careers and secure your next job: the hiring process is never easy to navigate.

Having a stellar resume and confident cover letter may get you to an interview stage, yet there's often other attributes that employers look for when it comes to hiring their ideal candidate.

As part of the "Life Hacks Live" series, CNBC asked leading chief executives what key quality they look for when it comes to a new hire.

Think you have what it takes? Well, see if you can tick these skills and characteristics off your list.

Taking initiative

Anne-Marie Slaughter
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Anne-Marie Slaughter

"What I want more than anything else is the ability to take initiative. I want people who are not going to wait for direction; they are going to take direction – I don't want rogues or mavericks who just go do what they want – they have to be able to take direction," says Anne-Marie Slaughter.

For the CEO and President of New America, and former director of policy planning for the U.S. State Department, Slaughter wants to hire somebody who can come to her with a set of ideas, while independently making their own connections.

Someone "who needs management but where management is setting general parameters, intervening when there's a problem," rather than holding their hand the entire way, the CEO of a leading U.S. think and action tank added.

Having these three magic ingredients

John Seifert, chief executive officer of Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide Inc.
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John Seifert, chief executive officer of Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide Inc.

For a global advertising and marketing agency like Ogilvy & Mather, it wouldn't be unheard of for each employee to be passionate about the marketing space; yet when it comes to the company's worldwide CEO, there are a few more qualities he has in mind.

First things first, Ogilvy & Mather's John Seifert is looking for someone with "insatiable curiosity".

"So I always, when I'm trying to either motivate someone to come to the company or I'm evaluating someone of joining the company, (observe) how much curiosity they have, how expansive their thinking is in terms of their life, their job, the things that they're interested in, is really important to me," Seifert told CNBC at Cannes Lions 2017.

Secondly, Seifert is a "big believer in context". If individuals can put themselves in the shoes of somebody else who may have a perspective that conflicts with their own, but can then understand that perspective and formulate it into a point of view independently – then they'll definitely win points with this CEO.

And finally: drive. "This is a tough world we live in, you want people who are not afraid to go for it and be brave," Seifert concluded.

Adaptability

Jeff Lawson, founder, CEO and chairman of Twilio, speaks at a press conference during the Mobile World Congress on March 1, 2017 in Barcelona, Spain
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Jeff Lawson, founder, CEO and chairman of Twilio, speaks at a press conference during the Mobile World Congress on March 1, 2017 in Barcelona, Spain

At cloud communications platform Twilio, every employee – or "Twilion" as they put it – is a leader. To be a Twilio leader – which the company sees as being "a behavior, not a position" – you'll need to try and abide by eight leadership principles.

Solve problems from the perspective of the customer's own experience; support, empower and challenge fellow colleagues to help them perform better; and seeking progress over perfection are just three out of the eight traits.

One which CEO, Founder and Chairman Jeff Lawson plucks out in a conversation with "Life Hacks Live" is: being adaptable to change.

"(At Twilio), we really are inventing the platform business model as we go that we need leaders who can draw from their experience in the past and learn from them, but not just blindly apply it to the situations we have at Twilio," said Lawson at the World Mobile Congress, in Barcelona.

"You do see some people who do fall into that trap, where they think 'this worked for me here, let's do it again.' And I don't think great businesses – especially today, in this world where things are always being disrupted – you never are quite able to just copy and paste from a previous company."

"You really do need to take your learnings and value experience but then internalize that and apply that to a new situation. Only the best leaders I've seen are able to really do that effectively."

Persistence and speed

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Having "persistence, determination and speed" is really important if you want to impress the likes of Martin Sorrell, the man who heads up the world's largest advertising agency WPP.

As the business of advertising is "not brain surgery" yet is becoming more demanding and complex – Sorrell professes on "Life Hacks Live" – the WPP CEO is looking for something along the lines for "persistence, determination and speed".

"In our business, the thing that is quite apparent is that you have to be increasingly efficient in what you do and responsive. Some may bemoan this, but do more for less," Sorrell said.

Working in a professional service business often means being available 24/7 as a company, Sorrell explains, telling CNBC how events can happen on weekends and holidays, therefore businesses and their employees need to be readily prepared.

The CEO has spoken about this in the past, having written a LinkedIn post in 2015 about the "7 Qualities that will get you hired". In the op-ed, having an "ambidextrous brain", the capability to argue and having the "will to win" were a number of qualities, that the WPP chief suggested.

Life Hacks Live is a series produced by CNBC International for Facebook, where tomorrow's leaders get to ask some of the world's biggest influencers for advice.