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How to get hired in the cannabis industry

Pro tips from a cannabis recruiter

Karson Humiston is the founder and CEO of Vangst, the cannabis industry’s leading recruiting platform. Since creating the Denver-based company in 2015, Humiston and her staff of 50 (and growing) have partnered with more than 600 companies to place 10,000 jobs across 14 states. Leafly asked her to offer five tips for people considering a leap into the cannabis industry.

1. Be flexible

Every business in the cannabis industry is a startup. Keep this in mind when interviewing. You’re speaking with people at a startup company in a startup industry.

Many companies don’t have full HR departments established yet, so be ready to adapt and absorb imperfections in the interview and hiring process.

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2. Ask questions

Ask about the company’s leadership, funding, licensing, and future plans. Learn about exactly where the company operates. Is it in one state or 10? Does it operate in medical cannabis states only, adult-use only, or both?

A couple key things to keep in mind: licensing and funding. Not all companies in the cannabis industry require state licenses. But most growers, processors, and retailers do. If you’re considering a company that touches the plant, it’s important to work only with licensed operators in the cannabis industry.

Financial stability matters. If a company isn’t funded well enough to survive its pre-revenue period, you’ll want to know that—and also how they plan to survive until the revenue arrives.

The team at Vangst headquarters in Denver: They know who’s hiring in the cannabis industry.

3. Expect change, and enjoy it

Change is the only constant in the cannabis industry, and things happen fast. Somebody who’s been in the cannabis industry for three years is considered a seasoned veteran.

From regulation and licensing, to constant growth, to challenges with the industry’s federal legal status, cannabis companies are constantly changing. A single tweak to a state regulation can force a company to change its product line or pivot its entire strategy.

If you’re someone who thrives in a fast-paced, constantly changing environment, you will enjoy working in the space.

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4. Passion is good, skills are better

Companies and recruiters see a lot of resumes from people who are passionate about cannabis and the cannabis industry. That’s great. But an employer wants to know how your particular skills and experience are relevant to their company. 

Interest and passion for the cannabis industry itself is wonderful, but companies need people who bring more to the table than just passion. Be clear about the skills and experience you bring to the company and the position for which you’re applying.

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5. Be prepared to wear a lot of hats

Most cannabis companies have fewer than 50 employees, so all team members are expected to roll up their sleeves and do what it takes to build the company. Some days that means packing boxes or assembling desks, even if you’re in finance and accounting.

If you’re someone who requires a very structured, established, and rigid work environment, the cannabis industry isn’t for you. If you thrive in an environment of change and opportunity, this is the place to be.

Karson Humiston's Bio Image
Karson Humiston

Karson Humiston founded Vangst, the cannabis industry's top recruiting platform, in 2015. The company now serves 700 businesses nationwide, with offices in Colorado, California, and Washington state.

View Karson Humiston's articles