Pro Tips for Getting a Job in the Cannabis Industry

Pro Tips for Getting a Job in the Cannabis Industry

Are you seeking employment in the cannabis industry but have no idea how to get that job?  This guide will help you get the job you want.

1) Do your research.

Before applying for a job in the cannabis industry, learn what the specific state requirements are before applying for a job.  For example, does the state require you to have an occupational badge?  Go to the state’s regulatory website and find out what the requirements are to get a badge. If a badge is required by the state, apply for the badge before applying for jobs.  The process of getting your occupational badge will probably require a background check.  Some states require you to have specific training that the employer may or may not provide.

Research the company you are applying for. Look at the websites and the online reviews (if available). Look at the ratings of the company on Weedmaps or Leafly. Are there any red flags?  Review mission statements or vision of the company you are applying for and figure out how your professional goals align with the organization’s mission.

Do some networking and research to find out who is in charge of hiring at the company.  If that means going to the physical location and asking that question, do the leg work.  Get the contact information for that individual – email and phone number, if possible.

2) Cover letter and Resume.

The cover letter is everything.  It gives you the opportunity to tell the employer why you are the best candidate for the position. Even if you don’t have cannabis industry experience, you can use the cover letter to let them know how your previous experience will enhance their current operations.  Also, this is the opportunity to show the company how your professional goals align with their organizational goals.  Mention the position for which you are applying, and tell them how skills and experience will align with the responsibilities of the position.  Explain why you will be successful in the position.

Your resume should highlight the positions that are the most closely aligned with the position you are applying for.  For example, if you are applying for a budtender position and you had a retail position 10 years ago and have been working as a Lyft driver and musician for the last 5 years, you may want to organize your resume by experience. Otherwise, highlight the customer service aspects of being a Lyft driver and musician.  It is important to highlight the skills of the desired position in your resume.  Yes, this means changing your resume and cover letter each time you apply to a different position, but that IS what it takes to get the job.

Have a professional review your resume.  Find someone who has experience reading resumes, or a business expert. Let them read your resume, be open to the suggestions they present.  There are online services that will also do this, but generally they cost money.

You can google “cover letter templates” and “resume templates” if you need an initial starting point.  Create several versions of your resume, including a cannabis and non-cannabis resume.

3) Initial contact and getting the interview

Reach out to the hiring manager via email.  A few notes here, you may want to create a   separate email account for job applications.  In particular, if your email address is something like 420dabsallday@gmail or sexykitten420@gmail.  What I am saying is have a name-based account like, FirstNameLastName@gmail. This will help the potential employer find your address more quickly and remember your name. Write a professional introductory email and provide a brief description of the documents (cover letter and resume) attached to the email and the position for which you are applying.  Make sure to use the name of the company in the email.  For example, “I saw COMPANY NAME was hiring for POSITION NAME, and I believe I am the perfect candidate for the job”.  Close this email with a statement like, “Please contact me this week at (your email and phone number).  I look forward to discussing the details of the position, and setting a time and date for an interview”.

Follow up this email with a phone call if you have not received a response in 24-48 hours.  Call and let them know you are following up on the email, and wanted to see if they received it, and if the position is still available.  While you have them on the phone, try to negotiate a time and date for an interview.

Make sure that you set a CALENDAR appointment with several reminders for that date.  Plan to show up to the interview 15 minutes BEFORE your set appointment.  This will give you the opportunity to settle into the environment, and observe other employees.

4) The Interview.

Dressing for the interview will be like dressing for an interview in any other industry.

The main complaints about candidates I have heard from multiple hiring managers in this industry:

  • Late/no-show
  • Lack of interest
  • Unprofessional attitude
  • No follow up
  • Candidate was not showered
  • Wearing hoodies
  • Wearing ball caps
  • Inappropriate shoes (flip-flops, sandals, heels too high, dirty/smelly)
  • Inappropriate clothing (shorts, tank tops, t-shirts, low cut)

The morning of the interview, wake up, shower and write a list of questions you have for the company. They will ask if you have any questions for them.  Dress like a professional.  Dark pants (no stains or rips, avoid denim or leggings if possible), blazer or sweater, and a white shirt. Limit accessories. Keep hair and makeup simple. Make sure it is your personality and professionalism that is standing out, not your outfit. Again, you can google “interview outfit” to find inspiration. It is understandable that you may not have funds to purchase a fancy new interview outfit, but there are several inexpensive ways to put together these looks.  Thrift stores have always been my go-to for finding elements of an interview outfit.  The outfit should be adjusted for the season.  Don’t show up for an interview in the summer in a wool suit.  Don’t use too much cologne or perfume.

Bring a notebook, a bottle of water, a pen, and a copy of your resume, all organized in a nice way. Again, keep it simple, if you have a black brief case, use that.  A plain folder works fine.  Make sure to not bring anything in that would distract attention from you.  This includes water bottles covered with stickers and dirty smelly bags/backpacks with or without patches and pins.  Make sure you show up to the interview as prepared as you’d want to be for the first day on the job.

At the interview, you will be asked questions about your previous employment, skills and positions.  Focus on the positive.  Let them know what you will be able to do working for their company. Focus on your strengths. Even when they ask you about your weakness, or negative experiences, tell them honestly and briefly about the scenario and emphasize what you learned from those situations.  Smile. Breath. Drink water. Write down the names of the people present at the interview.  Be your biggest cheerleader, it is okay to brag about your professional accomplishments during an interview.  Be confident, clearly develop your answers, and if you need a moment to develop an answer, ask for one.  For example, “Oh, that is a good question, let me think about the answer for a moment”, by the time you speak those words, and your answer will be partially developed.  Speak those words slowly and give your brain time to create an example or an answer.

If you have been in the industry and worked for other companies, do not speak negatively about them during the interview.  Present every experience in the industry as a positive contribution to your knowledge base.  For example, if you worked for a family run business, and as an employee you were treated different because you were not part of the family, discuss the challenges you faced in that situation, and how you overcame obstacles to accomplish goals.  Discuss how the environment directly impacted your work or your professional development.

Ask the questions you prepared.  When they ask you if you have any questions, you should ask about health insurance, training, pay, expectations, and opportunity for advancement and have them describe corporate culture. Ask about the initial on-boarding, reviews, and scheduling.  Do not ask about employee discounts, breaks or time off. You can ask about general benefits like, “What type of employee benefit package does your company offer?”  If you have a vacation scheduled for the next three months, let them know and give them those dates.

Follow up!!  When you return home from the interview, send an email to the hiring manager and the people at the interview. Tell them how much you enjoyed the interview

5) Be honest with yourself.

Ask yourself if this position is right for you.  How far is the commute to the facility? How much of your pay/time will go to transportation?  Did you get a positive impression of the company culture during the interview?  If you have kids, how will you balance their daily activities with your work hours?  Do you have a reliable vehicle or mode of transportation? Will you be able to maintain the employer’s schedule?  For example, if your children need to be driven to school at 8 am, and the employer has an 8 am start time, is there an early arrival program at your children’s school that you can take advantage of? Don’t start a job that you aren’t prepared to work, and don’t set yourself up for failure.  If there were red flags during the interview, then maybe take the position, but continue to look for other work.

There are so many opportunities out there in the cannabis industry, and you want to be sure that you have found the company that is right for you.  During the interview, if you witnessed signs of non-compliant or toxic behaviors, you may not want to take that job.  Taking a bad job with a toxic environment could set you back further than not having a job.  Also, many employers have a high turnover rate.  Make sure you are applying to a company that will work with for at least a year or more.  This will look better on your resume and create an opportunity for advancement.

Follow these steps and you are almost guaranteed to get that position that you are seeking in the industry. Treat the cannabis industry just like any other opportunity.  Just because this is cannabis, doesn’t mean professional standards are lowered.  If anything, they are higher, and the regulations are strict.  Familiarize yourself with your state’s regulatory guidelines and documents. When you get the job, having a good understanding of the regulations will help you perform better in your position.  Once you are working, make sure you prepare for the reviews like you did for the interviews.


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