The Top Transferable Skills That Can Help You Break Into the Cannabis Business

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The cannabis industry has become a significant catalyst for job creation. According to Leafly’s 2022 Jobs Report, there are 428,000 full-time jobs in cannabis, and I predict this number will increase by close to 100,000 jobs by the end of 2022. Thanks to incredible resilience throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and significant job growth due to expanding markets, many employees are considering transitioning to cannabis. 

Those with highly desirable skillsets are welcome with open arms. Due to the cannabis business’s relative infancy, the industry requires an expansive pool of qualified and experienced talent. We’ve seen many candidates—especially at the executive and C-suite level —migrating from other, more mainstream industries.

So what are the transferable skills growing cannabis businesses desire? Here is what job seekers need to know. 

Transferable industries

Employees from the following industries are greatly sought after by cannabis companies. 

  • Agriculture: The cannabis industry seeks an influx of talent from leading agriculture companies like John Deere, Bayer, and Cargill. Why? Cannabis cultivation uses similar methods, processes, and technology to commercial agriculture, making the transition easy for employees ranging from technicians to breeders to Directors of Cultivation. 
  • Pharmaceutical: Cannabis is a heavily regulated industry, which presents several challenges and creates a variety of positions for businesses that need help adhering to strict policies. The pharmaceutical industry has been around much longer and knows the ins and outs of compliance. For this reason, companies like Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, and Merck have lost employees to the cannabis industry in recent years. 
  • Food and beverage: We see a noticeable inflow of talent to the cannabis industry from other regulated sectors. Established food and beverage manufacturers are not only starting to explore cannabis-infused products on their own, but talent is also joining the cannabis industry from leading companies like Heineken and Constellation Brands.
  • Retail: Fast-paced, customer service-oriented industries like hospitality and retail produce professionals who transition nicely to cannabis. We’ve seen talent in this sector come from Nordstrom, Sephora, and even Walmart. Additionally, both hospitality and retail have experienced a high number of layoffs and job turnover due to the pandemic, freeing up a large pool of talent.

Related: Is the Cannabis Industry the Most Powerful Job Creator in America?

Transferable skills 

Here are some of the skills that cannabis companies are looking for. 

  • Adaptability: Flexibility and the ability to adapt to changes are vital in the cannabis industry, which seems to be ever-changing. A 2021 survey by Monster shows that flexibility is one of the top four skills employers are looking for, and this trend certainly applies to the cannabis industry. Analyzing failures, pivoting appropriately, and pushing forward is key to success in this industry. Job seekers – highlight your creative problem-solving skills and share examples of situations where you triumphed under pressure.
  • Teamwork: Working as part of a team is crucial in most industries, especially in an industry with so many businesses growing and evolving. Cooperation, accountability, collaboration, and listening skills are all valuable to possess in the cannabis industry. 
  • Decision-making: Leaders in the cannabis industry are frequently in positions where they need to make quick, confident decisions to take advantage of new opportunities. Job candidates in any industry who describe themselves as “decisive” are 12 times more likely to be high-performing CEOs than those who do not. 
  • Hard skills: Whether you’re a digital marketing specialist, an accounting expert, or even a legal professional, cannabis companies are looking for these hard skills and more as the industry continues to mature. There are a variety of abilities, education, and experience that will transfer seamlessly to the cannabis industry and position you as a qualified candidate for cannabis roles. Brands know that marketing is crucial to surviving in a crowded and competitive market space. 

How cannabis companies can attract talent

But even with a large pool from which to hire, employers can find it daunting to find the right talent. For this reason, take the time to define the positions you are looking to fill clearly, and the qualifications and experience you are looking for in an ideal candidate. Build company culture from the ground up and focus on people, workplace environment, and diversity over solely focusing on monetary gains.

Browse these comparable industries for transferable skills and employees who have the qualities you’re searching for but might not have the background in cannabis. With this in mind, use a variety of channels to recruit talent to catch these applicants from other industries. Make sure your compensation packages are competitive and up-to-date to attract (and retain) this high-quality talent. 

2020 was the first year we saw more executive and C-suite cannabis positions filled by candidates recruited from outside the cannabis industry than industry veterans. Many industries are sending us the next generation of cannabis industry – it’s time to start paying attention.