3 tips for landing a job in cannabis
By Kaitlin Domangue
Build your personal brand
I’ll never forget getting my first message about MY personal brand in 2019. The message said something to the effect of:
“You have a really great personal brand. It’s nice to see your hard work pay off.”
And then I quickly did a “what is a personal brand” Google search to see if I really understood what he was saying. I quickly realized that I have built my own personal brand in cannabis. It’s given me opportunities I could have never even dreamed about.
Watching my mom build a business as a child and being a childhood actress who quite literally relied on my personal reputation to book gigs, building my personal brand has always been incredibly natural to me – I just had no idea it actually had a name or even a strategy behind it.
I started building my personal brand in 2019 with the intention of gaining freelance writing clients in the cannabis industry, which is exactly what happened. But, personal brands are valuable resources for finding a full-time job, too.
There is no shortage of people wanting to join the cannabis industry. The United States alone supports over 400,000 full-time cannabis jobs. There are literally more cannabis workers in the U.S. than firefighters which low-key scares me because we all carry lighters around and regularly use them…
I built my personal brand on LinkedIn. That’s it.
In hindsight, relying on one platform that you don’t own to grow your personal brand isn’t necessarily the wisest choice. If I knew then what I know now about growth marketing, I would have started a personal newsletter, too. But, it just goes to show that you don’t need much to build your personal brand.
Since 2019, I’ve built a community of over 12,000 engaged cannabis professionals on LinkedIn. This directly resulted in my current job at The Green Paper, months making $10,000+ as a freelance cannabis writer, dozens of great relationships with other cannabis professionals, additional amazing job offers I’ve had to turn down, and so much more.
And the secret sauce? Authenticity. I didn’t use engagement pods or strange tactics to grow my followers and build my community. I was my authentic, raw self and shared my thoughts and observations about the cannabis industry. I didn’t leave my personality out of it.
Suddenly, it was a personal brand and I had more leads than I knew what to do with.
P.S. – I’m putting the FINAL touches on my LinkedIn cannabis marketing guide that will discuss using LinkedIn for personal brand building. It’s an incredibly detailed guide about using LinkedIn as a cannabis business or professional – so keep your eye out for that!
Be willing to invest in yourself
Like I said, y’all – there is no shortage of people applying to work in the cannabis industry. Some seasoned cannabis professionals are occasionally running into problems securing employment because it’s just so competitive.
But, don’t let that scare you. Just be willing to invest in yourself. This small action will separate you from the majority of candidates who just think it would be cool to work in cannabis.
Investing in yourself oftentimes looks like paying someone to help you reach your goals. And that’s not something many people are willing to do so if you are – you’re already 10 steps ahead of the game. Building a personal brand is also a self-investment.
Being self-aware is the most important key to investing in yourself. Understand where you’re at now and where you want to be. What does that gap look like? Is it an experience gap, a mindset gap? That will help you determine the most important areas to invest in yourself.
Any job seeker can benefit from having a professional look over your resume. A professionally-written resume can boost your earnings potential by 7%. And, 68% of job seekers who have reached out to a professional resume writer find a new role in under 90 days.
Networking events are the perfect opportunity to invest in yourself and build your personal brand at the same time. Attend as many local events in your area as possible, even if it means paying for them. Similarly, reach out to people in the position you want to be in and offer to pay them for their time to pick their brain.
That “pay them for their time” part is really important. Most professionals don’t have time just to chit-chat, but they do have time to be paid and give advice.
You should also invest in your education and skills. Go back to where you’re at now and where you want to be. Where can you enhance your current knowledge with programs and courses to become the ideal job candidate?
My husband immediately purchased the Cannabis Training University course after Missouri legalized it in 2018. Two years later, he took a crop science course from Colorado State University – a $600 investment for us.
Since 2021, he’s worked as a flower room lead, post-harvest quality control manager, cultivation consultant and now he’s the Social Media Coordinator and Grower Liaison at FOHSE in a fully remote, high-paying position.
His investments in himself got him here and similarly, mine brought me to The Green Paper!
Start a business
Okay, probably not the answer any job seeker wants to hear. But, if a door won’t open for you – build the door yourself and kick it down.
Launching a business is a fantastic way to have a job (or 85,000 jobs) in the cannabis industry. It gives you control, freedom to change course, and is an incredibly exciting adventure.
When people think “start a cannabis business” a cannabis brand or dispensary is usually the first thing that pops into mind. But the cannabis industry is an incredibly complex space to be. That means there is plenty of opportunity for all different kinds of businesses and you don’t just have to open a dispensary.
Looking at your past skills is the first step determining a strong cannabis business model for you.
What is your professional or educational background? There is room for accountants, attorneys, compliance specialists, retail managers, content marketers, HR professionals, customer service professionals, software engineers, and more to start successful cannabis businesses.
Beyond that, look to your passions & general strengths – I wasn’t a professional writer before making my start as a freelance cannabis writer! I was just a really strong writer and I knew it. Interestingly enough, my personal Facebook account always received great engagement – which was an indicator to me that I might be pretty good at this.
The cannabis industry is budding (pun NOT intended but we’re rolling with it). And that means there are more opportunities than many other industries to start a business and be successful. Ancillary businesses are just as important as plant-touching operations and encompass traditional skills, like marketing or HR.
With that being said – cannabis is not an easy place to thrive. All new industries are tough and startup statistics are bleak across every sector. Approximately 90% of startups fail. I am NOT a math whiz, but I know that’s a lot of companies, y’all.
Jokes aside, the failure rate of startups means just a small fraction of new companies are successful when it’s all said and done. The pressure is even hotter in cannabis, where federal and state regulations dictate how business is done. AND tax rates cut directly into profits.
Even ancillary businesses who don’t abide by the same federal and state regulations are working with companies who do, meaning they are victims of the cannabis insanity, too.
These businesses also deal with the stigma of working in cannabis and sometimes, service providers like banks *still* don’t work with them because of their cannabis association – despite not selling or producing cannabis.
Succeeding in cannabis as an entrepreneur is not easy, but the ones who can navigate the curveballs and stick it out will be truly grateful down the line. Million-dollar acquisitions are happening in cannabis all the time, which is just another reminder of this industry’s potential.