Feb 5, 2019

Why Hire an Executive Recruiter for Your Cannabis Business

When it’s time to hire a new employee for your cannabis business, where is the first place you turn? If you’re like the typical business owner or hiring manager, it’s probably one or more of the many online job boards. This can be a reasonable strategy for finding regular hourly employees. When it comes to hiring cannabis industry executives, though, it might not be your best option. The top executives – the ones you really want to hire – are not usually found on job boards. If they’re great at their jobs, they are most likely already employed.

So then, where should the owner of a cannabis company turn? One option that many traditional businesses utilize is to hire an executive recruiting firm. What might surprise a lot of “cannabusiness” owners is that cannabis executive recruiters are a great option for them as well.

The Challenge of Recruiting for Cannabis Companies

When you are looking for unskilled labor, it makes little difference where you turn. If you hope to hire employees familiar with the cannabis industry, your search is narrowed somewhat, but you still have many options. When you’re looking to hire for C-level positions, the competition gets fierce. You aren’t just up against a bunch of other “weed” businesses; you are competing with companies in a number of industries who are all looking for those same top candidates.

The Cannabis Job Market

In 2018, there were over 125,000 people working full time in the legal marijuana industry. That’s up from somewhere between 90 and 110 thousand in 2017 and is comparable to the number of people employed as librarians or kindergarten teachers. The industry is expected to continue to grow by about 21% annually through 2022. To put that in perspective, the health-care industry is predicted to see 2% annual growth over that same time period.

That’s a lot of marijuana-industry jobs to be filled, making for potentially stiff competition. In Canada, where recreational pot became legal nationally last October, companies have begun to hire from outside the country in order to fill their huge demand for labor. While many of these jobs are unskilled, this trend underscores this burgeoning industry’s need for people.

Hiring Executives in the Cannabis Industry

Clearly, there is a lot of competition when it comes to hiring in the industry. Hiring executives comes with extra hurdles to overcome, not the least of which is perception. Top executives have worked hard to develop a reputation, and many are concerned that taking a position in an industry that is still not quite legal – more than half of U.S. states allow cannabis in some form, but the plant remains illegal on a federal level – could damage the image they’ve worked hard to create.

In a recent interview with Bloomberg, a former executive at Anheuser-Busch InBev SA Harris Damashek talked about his move to cannabis company Acreage Holdings. Though he was eager to get into the rapidly growing industry, he didn’t tell his own mother of the move until months later. Many other executives are less open to enter an industry with the stigma that marijuana has had.

Building Trust in an Emerging Industry

Marijuana’s reputation may be unfounded, but it does matter. Adding to this problem is the fact that it is a new industry. There’s always a degree of uncertainty with anything new, and legal issues add to this problem. These concerns can lead those executives you hope to hire to remain cautious about the industry, even among those who might otherwise consider the opportunity your cannabis business offers.

An expert at cannabis job recruiting knows how to navigate the tricky waters. While executives might not be going out of their ways to explore marijuana industry opportunities, cannabis recruiters know how to find them and more importantly how to ease their concerns.

Using Your Time Wisely

Finding the right people to work for your company is time-consuming. With all that you are doing to market and grow your business, finding the time needed to search for the best executives takes its place among the many challenges every business has to deal with. Often, this can mean that hiring for your most important positions takes a lot longer than you would like.

Along with the competition, the stigma of working with weed, and limited time is the aforementioned problem that the best candidates are not actively looking for work.

So how does a growing cannabis company go about finding the right people to fill their openings at the C-level? You work with an expert – someone who understands the mindset of top executives knows how to find them, who is experienced at matching the executives’ skills with the firms that need them, and who knows how to entice them to explore new and better opportunities.

Recruiters who know the industry, and more importantly who understand the needs and desires of C-level executives, can solve each of the common recruiting issues. They know where to find the people you want to hire and they know how to reach out to them. Cannabis recruiting firms can ease any concerns executives might have about an industry often perceived as uncertain. And because executive recruiters work for you, these so-called headhunters can dedicate the time needed to sift through all of the potential candidates and narrow them down to those who will best fit your needs.


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