Emerging companies are enticing candidates with competitive salaries and 14 percent annual raises.
May 22, 2019 5 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Cannabis is flourishing. Even without federal legalization, it’s become the fastest-growing sector in the U.S. job market. ZipRecruiter’s labor economist Julia Pollak recently told The New York Times that the company’s data suggests there is at least 200,000 — and perhaps as many as 300,000 — cannabis jobs nationwide. While most of those listings are for entry-level jobs, there is an increasing demand for more experienced professionals to fill leadership roles.
As the industry matures and grows more competitive, so does the demand for top talent.
How candidates can stand out.
While you don’t have to be a cannabis expert to land a job in cannabis, you should have a passion for the industry and a general knowledge of the space. Candidates interested in joining the industry should be able to speak the language and possess a general understanding of the cannabis lifestyle, some of its history, the regulations, and more.
Cannabis is complex. Awareness of its different components, like the versatility of the plant and how it relates to health and well-being, helps candidates build credibility. Understanding the nuances of the changing market is also key to standing out among the competition. For example, in California, the largest cannabis market in the world, the industry has been developing since medical marijuana was legalized in 1996. In New York, which has yet to legalize adult-use cannabis, the following is more recently developed. There’s a lot of enthusiasm among venture capitalists and an excitement to launch new brands.
The skills required to succeed.
Beyond education and understanding, comes skills. Creativity and innovation go far in an industry that’s just getting underway. Cannabis is actively pushing boundaries and promoting lifestyles reflective of its culture.
Candidates with proven track records of launching new initiatives or finding innovative ways to grow a business beyond the norm will be valuable assets in cannabis, especially if they have high growth experience and a familiarity of startup environments. Those with a supercharged work ethic and a hunger to build an industry, in the same way they’ve built brands from the ground up, are sought after among cannabis companies. Whether it’s a classically trained C-suite executive from a large CPG corporation, or an entrepreneurial leader at a vibrant emerging brand, leveraging past successes and identifying how those achievements translate into the cannabis space will help show how you can add value.
Perks of the job.
While many people are excited to explore potential career opportunities in cannabis, the reward has to be high to move into an industry that still presents a lot of risks. Cannabis employers are taking note. According to ForceBrands’ 2019 Talent Market Report, which surveyed 500 full-time hiring and decision makers across CPG, cannabis offers competitive benefits and compensation packages. Cannabis offers more time for leave, the most popular employee benefit offered across CPG, than any other sector.
Emerging companies are also enticing candidates with competitive salaries and 14 percent annual raises, the highest percent annual increase across CPG. To put that in perspective, the national average for annual raise percentages hovers around 3 percent. But those looking to move into cannabis want more than compensation and benefits — they want ownership. This ownership mentality is reflected in generous stock options, equity and profit sharing offerings from cannabis employers.
Where to find the jobs.
With traditional compensation and benefits packages that rival more established industries, cannabis presents an exciting opportunity — both for those investing in the industry and for those looking to grow their careers. Although it’s an unconventional sector, similar best practices for traditional job searches can be directly applied to cannabis.
Digitally, LinkedIn is a good place to start and tap into your online network. More proactive job seekers may benefit from working with a specialized recruiting firm that has already built credible cannabis teams. Be mindful that the cannabis industry is very much based on relationships and trust (especially considering the legalities that surround it)., Attend popular industry trade shows and local meet-ups to meet people, network and become more aware of career opportunities.
Cultivating meaningful relationships early on and being engaged at the grassroots is key to finding success in an industry that’s just growing roots.
A collaborative spirit.
It takes a driven, entrepreneurial spirit to enter and succeed in an industry as adventurous and groundbreaking as cannabis. Unlike other more established industries, the groundswell of competition is just starting to ripple across cannabis — candidates should embrace its collaborative spirit. Industry insiders are tapping into each other to gain insights and ideas as they are writing the playbook together. In its earliest stages, some of the industry’s emerging leaders are working together and rooting for others to succeed so that ultimately, the industry too will thrive.