As the cannabis business continues transitioning from an underground affair to a mainstream industry, it brings its fair share of challenges. Among the most complex going on in the cannabis industry today have to do with employment —primarily because the notion of a legal “cannabis professional” is an entirely novel concept. Therefore, as the newly legal cannabis industry struggles to find its identity, job searchers and business owners alike also struggle to understand the parameters of successful working relationships. Even more, hopeful job searchers looking to land their cannabis dream job are faced with a plethora of unforeseen obstacles.
The cannabis industry is creating new jobs at a previously unfathomable rate. Studies show that an astounding 160,000 people were employed in the US cannabis industry in 2018. Amazingly, according to Forbes, Zip Recruiter CEO Ian Siegel reported that their popular job board has seen a 445 per cent increase in cannabis-related job postings “year after year.” To put this job creation in perspective, Zip Recruiter reports health-care related jobs rose more than 70 per cent in 2017, while tech-related jobs saw an increase of 254 per cent in the same year — neither of these fields come anywhere near cannabis.
Challenges Faced by Cannabis Job Seekers
While it is evident cannabis has become a major catalyst for new job creation, applicants today face serious hurdles in finding stable employment. The job turnover rate in hotbeds of the cannabis industry like Denver, CO, is quite alarming. In fact, recruiters and HR departments rarely see cannabis professionals with more than two years of employment at the same company. This systemic issue with short work durations is comparable to only the service industry in its pervasiveness. Similarly, the cannabis industry is plagued by misguided business owners who are quick to make false promises to attract top talent — only to not follow through in the end. In the worst cases, employees don’t receive a promised promotion or even get paid on time. Forewarnings aside, for those hopeful applicants hoping to cash in on the new cannabis boom, here are some words of wisdom in finding your cannabis dream job.
Study the Industry
You don’t have to be a cannabis business analyst to know this new industry is both volatile and confusing. If you are interested in making a career out of marijuana, be sure to study the industry with scrupulous dedication. Understanding local laws and business practices is one of the most direct ways to impress a cannabis hiring party.
As novel cannabis markets are created with legalization, new compliance regulations are born overnight. With this flux of opportunity and expansion comes a confusing path of regulatory “hurdles” that must be navigated in finding success. As most experienced cannabis professionals have seen, these new markets also become rapidly flooded with self-proclaimed “master growers” and “cannabis consultants” who grossly exaggerate their knowledge base. Please, don’t follow this example if you are serious about finding a stable career in cannabis. In fact, there is no more surefire way to turn off a cannabis hiring manager than acting like you know something you don’t.
If you are interested in finding your dream career in cannabis, a great starting point is researching the market niche you are looking to occupy. Be sure to study up on your professional background as compared to new cannabis jobs. Study up on job postings to understand how the skillsets needed in new cannabis jobs related to your skillsets. By keeping an eye on sources like Indeed, Zip recruiter, and LinkedIn, you can learn about cannabis careers and align your background with those that are the closest fit. Knowing your transferable competencies and explaining their application in cannabis is a great way to wow interviewers at your dream company. By using this approach, you are providing an honest appraisal of your background while showing you have been researching the cannabis space as a serious job searcher.
When looking at the cannabis industry from the outside, applicants are often drawn to impractical career paths that are not related to their professional background. For instance, cannabis cultivation jobs receive unparalleled attention on both job boards and social media because cultivation careers are highly romanticized by both hobbyist growers and cannabis connoisseurs. Yet, just because you have grown exceptional flowers in your closet or can name the genetic lineage of NY Diesel doesn’t mean you have the skills necessary to work in a commercial cultivation job.
For those individuals looking to find a dream job in cannabis, the best starting point is an understanding of realistic opportunities. Often, these opportunities are related to skillsets developed in someone’s past profession — not the fact that they enjoy growing or consuming cannabis. Therefore, if you want to find your dream job in the industry, you might have to start with something less romantic like information technology, facilities management, human resources, or compliance.
If you have the drive to find your cannabis dream job, you might have to settle with a less attractive position as you build your resume. It goes without saying “dream jobs” don’t come easily and you will likely have to make some sacrifices to realize this goal. Ideally, in time your career can blossom into something that is challenging, rewarding, and fulfilling.
The cannabis industry is brand new and those working in this exciting field are still learning about it daily. Yet, as the cannabis industry grows and matures, we will continue to witness a serious imbalance between the amount of new jobs created and those individuals with applicable experience. As this trend continues to gain momentum, hiring parties are also increasingly motivated to hire people from outside the industry. Therefore, it is vital that serious cannabis job searchers “go the extra mile” in making themselves stand out in a crowd of applicants.
We have also seen an influx of high-powered executives transitioning into the cannabis space, which is further evidence of the maturation of the industry. This trend is good news for job searchers. These executives bring hard-won experience to the industry, which will hopefully help solve the systemic issues with stability and organization currently plaguing the cannabis space. To revisit the notion of studying the industry, a big part of finding your dream job in cannabis is researching those companies who are showing signs of not only growth, but also stability. A primary indicator of job stability is a leadership team that is grounded in the very real foundations of education, hard work, organization, and patience.