On both personal and professional levels, the cannabis industry is an extremely exciting thing to be a part of. For many who work in cannabis, there is an inherent pride in helping shape the industry into something great, something to be proud of. Yet, as the entire market is comprised of startup businesses, there are many challenges that job seekers would likely not see in more established lines of work.
Due to the novelty of the cannabis job market, there is great deal of volatility in job security. This can be for any number of reasons, including an inherent lack of organization, a lack of proper capitalization, or even a lack of a proper business plan. Additionally, there are a good number of business owners and investors who have inflated plans of “getting rich quick” in the industry, treating it as though it’s a
gold green rush, not a serious business.
As a result of the instability of the cannabis space, it is vital that job searchers vet their potential and future employers. Doing some preemptive research about a business can help people better understand what sort of company it is they may be working for. Similarly, approaching a job interview with a critical awareness of the market can be helpful to one’s chances of being hired. With any luck, extra precautions can save the job seeker some serious heartache and frustration.
With the above ideas in mind, here are some great avenues to explore in vetting potential cannabis industry employers:
1. Don’t be Afraid to Ask Tough Questions
An extremely effective way to avoid taking the wrong job in cannabis is to simply be upfront and forward during the interview process. This often means asking tough questions like: “Why did the last employee in this role leave?” or “What sort of turnover rates do you have?” While it may seem somewhat daunting to press a potential employer on these tough questions, the best employers should respect applicants for being upfront and honest. In the event that the potential employer seems agitated by your questions or tries to deflect, it's probably a warning sign that they have something to hide.
Editor’s Note: Don’t fall prey to asymmetric information. Being upfront during an interview establishes yourself as someone who should not be taken advantage of.
2. Talk to other Employees
After the initial interview phase, some of the more astute job searchers will ask to speak to other employees at a company in deciding if the business is a fit for them. With this inside information, applicants can get a feel for their potential co-workers, as well as the general morale of the workplace. Potential coworkers demeanors and beliefs should be pretty telling about the business as a whole.
3. Follow the Funding
A major theme seen amongst dissatisfied cannabis industry employees has to do with the funding behind an operation. Namely, the industry is plagued by startup business owners who cannot pay their employees on time, if at all.
As such, doing some internet sleuthing on the financial state of a potential employer is never a bad idea. In fact, prior to starting a job search, we often encourage candidates to research what cannabis companies have recently received funding. With this critical approach, job searchers can identify and focus on businesses who have ample liquidity to handle payroll.
One of the great things about using financial data to vet a company is that cannabis companies who have received funding have already been thoroughly vetted by their financiers, which says a good deal about their internal organization and business model. If they have a business model and organization that appeals to these standards, they should have their business in order.
Do you have any other tips for vetting employers? Let us know in the survey or on the forums!
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About the Author
Kent Gruetzmacher M.F.A. is a Colorado based freelance writer and the Director of Business Development at Mac & Fulton Talent Partners (www.mandfconsultants.com), a recruiting firm dedicated to the indoor gardening and cannabis space. He is interested in utilizing his M.A. in the Humanities to critically explore the many cultural and business facets of this youthful, emergent industry by way of his entrepreneurial projects.