Whether you’re coming into the space from an outside or ancillary field, a green-thumbed cultivator, or an enthusiast looking to make your passion into a career, seeking employment in the cannabis industry can be a daunting task.
Many of the mainstream employment websites are warming up to cannabis-related job postings, but in reality, cannabis businesses are often looking for a different kind of employee from those browsing the mainstream outlets. Read on to learn everything you wish you knew about finding your dream job in cannabis.
Considerations for Candidates
Several professional skills and personal traits are key in the cannabis industry that are treated as “nice-to-haves” in the business world.
According to Rachel, founder of GreenSeek, “Job seekers looking for marijuana jobs might face challenges in this field compared to others. This field has a very close community, and many employers don’t feel comfortable looking for new hires outside their individual networks. Job seekers may also have a difficult time trying to find the right position or right company to look for, because this industry is still developing.”
Ever fancied working at a trendy startup, with tight deadlines, chaotic teamwork and constant upheaval? Then the cannabis industry might be for you.
“The entire cannabis industry is in “start-up” phase; the bulk of cannabis companies have been around for less than two years,” says Karson Humiston, founder and President of Gradujuana. “That being said, attractive candidates for the cannabis industry are individuals who operate well in a start-up culture – have the ability to wear multiple hats, work in an environment where all the systems ARE NOT in place, and best practices are still being established. Most importantly, they have the flexibility to work in an industry that is rapidly changing, and are prepared to adjust as needed.”
Other baseline requirements for a cannabis job? Since it’s still a sensitive political subject in many states, your new employer expects you to be trustworthy to a fault, educated about the plant and the business processes around it, and understanding of the basic nuances of local, state, and federal government. While you may not get a job directly related to cultivation or policy, it’s still important to understand the larger ecosystem in which the cannabis industry operates.
Depending on the type of position you’re applying for, direct experience with the plant, either in cultivation or retail, may very well score you the position over another applicant whose only work experience is behind a desk. However, always remember to keep the emphasis on the professional skills you bring to the table, and not your smoking prowess.
“Passion for cannabis is not a skill, experience or talent!” says Humiston. “Nothing makes me or my recruiters hit ‘delete’ faster than a resume with the title ‘I love marijuana.’ Yesterday I interviewed a candidate for a graphic designing position and the first thing he said was, ‘I have been smoking everyday since I was 14, this is my dream!’ Newsflash, pal. Our client’s dream is to find someone who has a lot more going for him than 15 years of hitting the bong! We are recruiting educated, professional, talented individuals who possess the skills needed to help our clients succeed. Companies are looking for people with the skills to get the job done correctly, and that’s what is important to express on your resume and in the interview.”
You may also want to start considering relocation if you’re dead set on a job in this space, as the legal markets are few and far between, and the emerging markets are rapidly changing.
Cannabis-Friendly Staffing Agencies
There are several staffing agencies whose sole focus is connecting cannabis industry employers with the perfect candidates. Viridian Staffing and Ms. Mary Staffing are two of the top names in this space, working with companies on a client-by-client basis.
Getting in with one of these organizations can help guide a job seeker in the right direction, though most of the jobs available through these agencies end up posted on a number of channels online for those who know where to look.
Cannabis-Friendly Job Sites
Just like in the mainstream job market, the cannabis industry has its own lineup of job database websites for candidates to browse by keyword, job type and geography. While many of the sites feature duplicate postings from across the web, they have their differences as well.
GreenSeek, a site that mainly serves cannabis tech companies, dispensaries, and cultivation companies, bridges the gap between employers and job seekers by only accepting pre-screened trustworthy candidates into the Talent Network. GreenSeek’s Talent Network candidates have impressive resumes with marketing backgrounds, legal experience, social media, web development, trimming, finance, sales and many more.
“The site hosts positions from budtenders to Chief Operating Officers – we have a little of everything. We’re seeing more and more jobs on the professional services side like sales, marketing, administration, and finance, and we’ve had a few security positions posted recently as well,” Rachel said. “I get really excited seeing these skill sets and backgrounds filter into Greenseek’s network; it shows that this really is becoming a commercialized industry and we’re attracting beyond the cannabis community.”
Gradujuana, another industry-specific site, provides direct hire, contract to hire, and temporary staffing solutions to dispensaries, grow facilities, kitchens, and ancillary cannabis companies, recruiting staff from entry- to executive-level in a wide variety of areas.
“We’ve found that cannabis business owners and managers are so busy operating and growing their companies, that they do not have the time to post on job boards, go through hundreds of resumes, interview candidates, and perform reference and background checks,” said Karson Humiston, Gradujuana’s founder. “These owners and managers end up hiring the first person who comes through their door, and this contributes to the 74 percent employee turnover rate within the cannabis industry. We know where to source top candidates, we know the questions to ask in the interview process and we save our clients hundreds of hours, and thousands of dollars in hiring mistakes.”
“Dispensaries come to us looking for typical positions such as budtenders and store managers; but also come to us looking for higher level positions such as marketing associates, accountants, regional managers, graphic designers and security personnel,” said Humiston. “The dispensaries that are truly establishing a brand operate their stores like any other high-end retail store, and staff accordingly.”
Gradujuana staffs for ancillary businesses too, for which the most common positions are technical writers, marketing associates, accountants, and executive assistants.
Mainstream Job Sites
Though not the highest concentration of cannabis employment opportunities, you can still find a good deal on the same sites you’d browse for a “regular” job. What’s more is that the corporate or “white collar” type jobs, or those brokered by a staffing agency, almost seem to be more prevalent on the mainstream job sites, since they’re looking for more professional or classically-educated candidates.
The old standby Indeed has a wealth of cannabis-friendly positions listed at any given time, many of them from Viridian Staffing. Just search for “cannabis” and browse. Monster has cannabis jobs, too, and you can search either “cannabis” or “marijuana” to find them.
LinkedIn has several shortcomings when it comes to dealing with the cannabis industry. You still can’t use Sales Navigator to find industry insiders or sales prospects, nor can you “tag” your expertise or your published work with the word “cannabis,” but luckily you can still search it as a keyword in the user-friendly job search function. Some of the jobs can be applied for with just one click; just make sure your LinkedIn profile is up-to-date with all relevant experience, and always include a targeted and tasteful cover letter.
Typically, on the mainstream sites, search on a national level rather than within your zip code, because the jobs in your area will likely be a short list.
Advice For The Job Hunt
“Compared to other industries, cannabis is basically the same as far as job seeking goes. You decide what you want to be, and begin the quest, whether you use Weedhire.com, Craigslist, Google, or just word of mouth to see what is out there.” – Ted Knapp, WeedHire
“Be patient if you don’t immediately see an open position that interests you; they will come as the market continues to mature.” – Rachel, GreenSeek
“Candidates who are used to going to work, and going through the same “nine-to-five” structured routine, don’t stand a chance in the cannabis industry – they will have a heart attack on the first day!” – Karson Humiston, Gradujuana