Get Growing: Best Practices For Hiring In The Cannabis Industry

Canada’s emerging cannabis industry is ripe with employment opportunities as companies scramble to snatch up budding talent.

Your company is only as good as your team; meaning careful consideration needs to be taken before bringing on a new hire. Good recruitment practices can be tricky across any industry, and cannabis certainly presents its own unique challenges.

Hiring 101

Make sure you clearly define the position before posting a job opening. Lumping too many duties into one role can lead to an inefficient and ineffective performance (this applies to any role, not just new hires). In addition to defining hard competencies for the role, have a sense of what qualities will be a good fit for your company culture.

Remember that you get what you pay for. Understand the market compensation for the role and make sure you are aligned with market expectations by offering a competitive salary and benefits package. Once you have found a great candidate, move through the process quickly to keep a potential employee engaged. For example, don’t leave too much time between interviews. And be sure to get a final offer in place. Until the paperwork is signed, nothing is official no matter how enthusiastic either party is about the hire.

Onboarding is the crucial last step to hiring basics. Having a good onboarding process will set new employees up for success. Help create a good environment for them in their first weeks and months on the job.

What to Look for When Hiring for the Cannabis Industry

This industry is evolving daily, so you need employees who can be flexible and adapt quickly. This requires employees who are innovative and thrive in a constantly shifting environment. Given that the industry is in startup mode, you need employees who can work startup hours. Stamina and passion are crucial for getting through the long days.

Ideally, prospective talent will have an appreciation and understanding of cannabis but a love of the plant or general cannabis consumer level experience isn’t sufficient to land a job in the industry. Candidates still need to be qualified for their roles.

Borrow From Other Industries

Finding employees with direct experience in the cannabis industry is a challenge, so it is important to look for transferable skills.  

For the recreational market, looking to the consumer packaged goods industry, especially alcohol or tobacco, can have some skills overlap. People from the pharmacological industry or who have clinical backgrounds can be a good fit for the medical market or lab work. Retail is another big sector in the cannabis industry. Previous experience in retail, customer service, or hospitality are good comparables.

Some roles don’t necessarily benefit from previous cannabis experience. It’s more important to have the solid credentials in your domain of expertise, such as accounting or other administrative roles.

Hiring Challenges in the Cannabis Industry

The cannabis industry is just starting to lay down roots. Given its relative infancy, it can be difficult to find people with direct experience. Often times, people with direct experience in cannabis are from the “grey market.” While there is certainly a wealth of knowledge and opportunity to come from this sector, there can sometimes be a clash with fitting into a highly regulated culture.

Another issue with an emerging industry is that many companies are still in startup mode. Defining roles is important but new companies may not always know exactly what they need or their needs may shift. This is compounded by regulations that are being developed and rolled out in real time.  Everything is in new or in flux which trickles down to a company’s operating procedures and employment needs. The industry is being shaped on the fly which can lead to compressed timelines for hiring. This also means that top talent is being snapped up because everyone is hiring--like, yesterday.

Working with a recruiting firm can help navigate many hiring challenges, particularly being short on time. Knowing where to source great talent and having experience with the pitfalls and shortcuts of the recruitment process, particularly in cannabis, can give a company the competitive advantage it needs to find the right employees. Cannabis at Work specializes in recruitment services, online industry training, and HR consulting for the cannabis industry.

To learn more about how we can help you find the best candidates for your team please click here.


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