How to Attract Top Talent from Other Industries to Cannabis 

For cannabis industry businesses, seamless growth depends on finding the right leadership. As a relatively new industry, what can the pot sector do to draw in top talent? A new report from CannabizTeam reveals some tips on attracting talent from other sectors.

February 16, 2022 – With a growing number of legalized states starting to sell and some experts predicting that the cannabis industry will top $43 billion by 2025, it is no surprise that cannabis-related jobs are also on the rise. For businesses, this means new positions to fill to keep up with rapid growth and consumer demand. The challenge for recruiters is sifting through the influx of new talent to find the best candidates, says a new report from CannabizTeam, a cannabis-focused executive search firm. “Newcomers to cannabis migrating from other industries will possess a variety of skills and experience, and it is important to identify which of these will translate to the world of cannabis,” said Liesl Bernard, chief executive officer of CannabizTeam. “Finding reliable, ambitious and qualified employees to grow your cannabis business can be a daunting task, even with a large pool from which to hire.” To help cannabis recruiters attract the best prospects and hire suitable candidates that will bring value, commitment, and success to their business, the CannabizTeam offers these tips: don’t rush the hiring process, define the position specification clearly, recruit through multiple channels, look for transferable skill sets form other industries, offer competitive compensation, and focus on pre-employment screening. Let’s take a closer look.

Don’t Rush  

Whether replacing an employee, creating a new position or expanding operations, the tendency is to want to fill a job with someone competent and available as quickly as possible. “But in order to find the best person, not only to perform the duties of the job but to enhance your workplace culture and grow and evolve with your business, it takes time,” said Mr. Bernard. “Your hiring strategy must reflect what you are as a business and target precisely the kind of talent that will succeed in the position, the company, and the industry as a whole.”

Clearly Define the Position

When posting a job listing, include more than a simple description of the duties to be performed. Instead, clearly define what the job entails, include what qualities a viable candidate should possess, and outline the culture and values of your business that you believe a potential hire should share. “This structure will allow candidates to grasp a complete understanding of the job and match their strengths and interests to the description of the ideal candidate, producing a clear understanding for both employer and employee about what is expected and how to excel,” said Mr. Bernard.

Recruit Through Multiple Channels

Because so many qualified candidates come from a wide range of other industries, it is vital to cast a wide net when searching for potential applicants. Cannabis-friendly online job boards like ZipRecruiter and Indeed are effective places to get a lot of traffic on your job listings, said CannabizTeam. Using social media like Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn can raise your visibility and reach those already in the job market and those that may be open to changing their career path but are not aware of the opportunities available in the cannabis industry. There are professional cannabis industry recruiters that work on contingency and have cultivated networks of talented candidates looking to connect with businesses searching for quality employees. Networking through cannabis-related events and membership associations can also yield knowledgeable and ambitious candidates.

Look at Comparable Industries for Transferable Skills

Cannabis is a heavily regulated industry, which can bring a number of challenges. Business owners and recruiters can benefit from looking at other regulated sectors to find talented employees with a solid knowledge base regarding how to work in a field where regulation requires strict adherence to specific policies and attention to detail. “The pharmaceutical, alcohol, tobacco, food and beverage, and gaming industries have been around much longer than cannabis,” said Mr. Bernard. “Recruiting talent from these comparable industry models can provide your business with relatable business perspectives and best practices that can benefit your workplace and complement your staff.”

Related: How Cannabis Executives Can Lead Companies for the Long Haul

Likewise, fast-paced, customer-oriented industries such as hospitality and traditional retail can produce seasoned professionals that are familiar and comfortable working in those environments and can use those skill-sets to thrive at your business. Both industries have experienced high levels of layoffs in the past two years due to COVID, freeing up talent that could be recruited into the cannabis industry.

Offer Competitive Salaries and Benefits

One of the most essential steps toward hiring and retaining quality employees is offering competitive wages. Ensuring your base pay, bonus structures and benefits packages are current and comprehensive is critical to attracting talented professionals that can take your business to the next level.

Perform Pre-employment Screenings

In an industry as highly regulated as cannabis, having stringent pre-employment screenings and background checks is essential to ensuring your business remains compliant with all state laws and restrictions. Hiring unqualified employees can result in fines, penalties, and closures, so it is paramount that your business put procedures in place to screen any potential candidate. Pre-employment screenings should include:

  • A criminal and civil records search.
  • Restricted party search.
  • Professional license investigation.
  • A National Sex Offender Registry search.
  • A National Record Locator search.
  • A review of any previous compliance issues at past cannabis-related businesses.

Growing Search Firm

CannabizTeam now boasts 10 offices in eight states across the U.S. Since its inception in 2016, the search firm has placed top candidates from entry level to specialized C-suite leadership at private and public cannabis companies in North America and Europe. Multi-state clients include TerrAscend, Justice Grown, Ascend Wellness Holdings, Jushi, LEEF Holdings, NewTropic and Benzinga.


Why Cannabis Companies Need Purpose Driven Leaders
With pot becoming legal in an increasing number of states, the expanding sector faces a strong need for talent. But what kind of leadership is best served to fuel this growing sector? A new report from Y Scouts takes a closer look, and leading recruiters that serve the industry then weigh in.


CannabizTeam recently launched a new service line for cannabis companies: CT Board Placement. The new service assists cannabis industry clients in identifying and recruiting candidates for board of director positions who have a diverse blend of skills and experience. CT Board Placement will also offer a cannabis director development program to help first-time directors learn the culture and nuances of the company they will serve as well as the broader cannabis industry. The cannabis director development program includes a detailed curriculum exploring the most relevant governance issues in North America, with a special focus on issues facing boards in the U.S., Canadian and Mexican cannabis markets.

“Appointing the right non-executive directors is a critically important decision for all cannabis companies in today’s competitive marketplace,” said Ms. Bernard. “Recruiting directors in the cannabis space is a more complex process due to the relative youth of the industry and the lingering legacy legal nuances. Our goal with CT Board Placement is to help our clients find a diverse blend of candidates with relevant experience, strong character and reputation, proven judgment and leadership skills that will set them up for future success.”

Related: HerbForce Launched to Serve Growing Pot Industry Talent Needs

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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