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As the cannabis industry grows, it is also becoming a major catalyst for job creation. Still, if you have no experience working in cannabis, the prospect of transitioning careers may seem challenging. Many professionals haven’t identified how their established work history might apply to a job in cannabis.
Luckily, people with no direct cannabis work experience can seamlessly shift into the industry. All it takes is a bit of critical thinking about your work history and career goals to make a solid plan for translating your skill-sets for a job in cannabis.
As a business leader who made a successful transition from transportation into the cannabis industry, I’ll share some advice that helped me in this process.
The cannabis job market is booming
According to Leafly Jobs Report 2021, “legal cannabis now supports 321,000 full-time American jobs.” The report also states, despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, the industry still added “more than 77,000 jobs” in the year 2020.
This 32 percent increase in job creation from 2019 is due partially to the fact that many states deemed cannabis businesses “essential” during periods of lockdown. With such incredible job growth and resilience, the cannabis industry presents an attractive career path.
But the established talent pool is still shallow
Because the cannabis industry is in its relative infancy, it lacks an established workforce— very few people have actual “industry experience.” While cannabis businesses are creating new jobs at an unprecedented rate, HR departments have had to work overtime to understand precisely what types of people will fit in these new jobs.
My experiences founding Most Consulting Group and Scarlet Express show that particular skill-sets developed in other industries transfer well into cannabis. In the end, it’s easier to teach new hires about cannabis than it is to train them on a brand new skill – such as effective communication.
I am comfortable hiring people from outside the industry if they have relevant skill-sets for the position in question. Here are some things to consider.
Know your professional strengths
How do you know if your work history might apply to a job in cannabis? A competency-based assessment is an effective tool. According to the training company HRSG, a competency-based assessment “measures the observable behaviors that successful performers demonstrate while working on any given job. These behaviors result from various abilities, knowledge, motivations, traits, and skills an employee may possess.”
Competency-based assessments help you better understand the skills you have developed throughout your life. For example, people that have worked as chefs almost always have excellent time management skills and multi-tasking abilities. Similarly, people that have worked in administrative jobs likely have good communication abilities and computer skills.
When I moved into cannabis, I assessed my competencies against what I deemed good opportunities for opening a business in the industry. I knew I had great foundations for starting a communications agency and delivery service with a talent for operations and management.
Search for your ideal job
After identifying your most vital skills with a competency-based assessment, you can start searching for your dream job in cannabis. Please note, while you will be switching careers into a brand-new industry, this change will be based on established skills.
A great place to start with your cannabis job search is simply by looking at job descriptions. Scan websites like Indeed, Monster, and Glassdoor to get a feel for what is available. Once you have found something that interests you, read through the job description, searching for competencies that match your background. For example, if you had a customer-facing role at your last job, and the description mentions customer service, you have a match!
In traditional job search scenarios, people most often stay within their given industries. However, because you are moving into cannabis from something altogether different, you should go the extra mile in explaining how your background is relevant for the job. With this approach, hiring managers can look at your work history and understand whether you will fit without too much difficulty.
Write a competency-based resume
Preparing a competency-based resume specifically for the cannabis industry is a great way to get the attention of hiring parties. We always prioritize people who take the initiative to relate their work history to cannabis.
While traditional resumes market your specific job history, competency-based resumes focus more on the skills you have generated in these positions. Focus on skills you know to be an asset for hiring managers in the cannabis space. For example, we at Most Consulting like to talk to people who have held similar positions in other regulated industries – such as beer and wine.
If you aren’t sure which of your skills are attractive to cannabis companies, you should look to job descriptions again. By analyzing the jobs, you’ll better understand what types of positions are a good fit. The more competencies you can match, the better suited for the role you likely are.
How I transferred my skills to cannabis
Like so many in the cannabis industry, I utilized my professional skill set to break into the business. My background in the transportation industry enabled me to launch my latest business venture, Scarlet Express.
Scarlet Express is a cannabis supply chain management company that operates throughout the United States. One of our services is a third-party delivery service that partners with dispensaries to deliver cannabis within their given markets. While many people have had similar ideas, nobody had the experience to launch such a complex business.
I had experience working in the transportation industry before entering the cannabis industry. I gained invaluable experience that would pay off immensely when launching Scarlet Express. I grew a small transportation company named Diamond Courier into a massive $28 million business.
Not only did my transportation industry background give me a clear vision on how to scale Scarlet Express, but it also informed me on several essential nuances of delivery services related to compliance, insurance, technology, training, and more.