Simply Wanting a Cannabis Career ‘Just Isn’t Enough Anymore’, Industry Recruiter Says
The cannabis industry in North America is currently experiencing a period of unprecedented growth. Last year, Fortune magazine reported a 690 percent rise in job listings between January 2017 and August 2018, and projected an additional 220 percent growth for the industry in 2019.
This is “just the tip of the iceberg,” according to Josh Wand, CEO of the recruitment firm ForceBrands, which launched the cannabis-focused subsidiary HerbForce back in January. HerbForce was created to help cannabis entrepreneurs build their sales, marketing, finance, and operations teams.
Wand told Civilized that the company’s interest in cannabis began once they started seeing a rise in THC and CBD-infused products popping up in the market.
“We found that they were really looking to create food, beverage, beauty, personal care products,” he said. “Which were all verticals we were already growing through our other interests.”
Building an Industry
But how do you recruit someone for a role in an industry that hasn’t existed before? As cannabis continues to navigate the legal landscape in the US and Canada, a lot of these companies might feel like they’re going in blind. However, Wand said that a lot of the jobs now being created in the cannabis space have some equivalent in other industries.
“While it is technically new territory, they want people with experience that can help scale the business,” he said. “You look for other high-growth categories like food, beverage, beauty, pharma to find those with relatable skillsets that can come in and add a lot of value.”
Which is not to say that those who have years of experience working specifically with cannabis prior to legalization are not valued.
“I think there is a lot of institutionalized knowledge on behalf of people that have been growing for years, especially on the cultivation and growth side,” he said. “There are cannabis gurus who are experts in extraction and growing. We’re seeing a lot of these founders and executives who came up through the ranks over a period of years in the industry.”
However, he points out, a company cannot be made up of seasoned cannabis professionals alone. As the market grows, businesses have to look to successful leaders in other industries as well.
“A company needs to ensure that they grow their business with like-minded people who have come up through other industries that have experienced scale.”
Because of that, Wand said that he’s noticed a lot of companies taking the opportunity to be more diverse and open with their hiring practices, creating more opportunities for women and people of color, while other, older industries continue to see more institutionalized exclusivity.