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Overcoming the Biggest Challenges of Hiring Executive Talent in Cannabis

Cannabis companies know that growing a business in this industry is unlike any other.

We are pioneers of a new domain. While that comes with a unique sense of excitement and pride, it also comes with its own unique challenges – especially when the industry is rapidly evolving from a camp of adventurous trailblazers to professionalized services.

The same fast-paced evolution can be seen in the industry’s professionalization of executive recruitment.

The biggest hiring challenges are often linked to the rapid pace of the industry’s evolution. The majority of executive-level roles in the industry today are newly-created roles. This means they have little (if any) previous employee reference points to measure success.

This spurs other challenges, such as developing an acceptable compensation package, or designing the “right” candidate experience needed to attract best-in-class talent from more established industries.

Evaluating for culture fit is also incredibly challenging since most cannabis companies are still in “startup” mode, and many company cultures are still being defined.

How Can Cannabis Companies Overcome These Unique Industry Challenges?

First you must determine how you will measure a successful outcome from your recruitment process, even if you have limited previous reference points.

You’ll need to clearly define what you want to accomplish with the role, and what that means to ideal potential candidates.

That means clearly outlining:

  • What are you trying to accomplish with this role?
  • What is the exact scope of the role?
  • What is the compensation package (and where do you have flexibility in that area)?
  • What is the process to win best-in-class talent for this role?
  • How you want candidates to experience the culture and process of working with your company?

Creating clear definition in these areas will provide benchmarks to determine if potential candidates are aligned with your goals.

Since this is an extensive, time-consuming process, it’s important to task someone with owning the recruitment and vetting system.

You may already have an established leader on your team, or you may choose to partner with an external consultant to guide you through this process.

If you do prefer to partner with an external recruitment firm, make sure you’re crystal clear on whether you’re looking for a ‘white glove’ service to handle all the heavy lifting for you, or if you’re simply looking for a general recruiter or staffing agency to send you qualified candidates for you to vet yourself.

Many large recruitment agencies have limited bandwidth to go beyond general staffing. They usually don’t have the time or capacity to focus on industry professionalization, or your overall mission.

This is because trying to attract talent from other, more established industries adds a big educational component to the recruiting process.

This education component requires a rigorous vetting process that matches each pre-screened candidate against your desired profile, company culture, and compensation package to ensure everything is in alignment.

At Hunter + Esquire, we realize that this process can feel overwhelming – especially when you don’t have access to insider networks or information.

Most of our clients are too busy to take the time required to recruit top-tier executives strategically, and many of them don’t even know where to start. They often need a recruitment partner who can remain flexible, and is available to them beyond a standard cookie-cutter arrangement.

That’s why our cannabis clients get all the juice with us. Having a search partner supporting you around the clock, who feels the same pain of not knowing when their days begin or end, is almost a necessity at this stage of the cannabis industry ‘War for Talent’ game.

Furthermore, your executive search partner should offer a consultative approach and demonstrate a strong alignment with your brand. This will allow them to represent your organization in the candidate marketplace as an additional brand ambassador.

It’s easier said than done, but don’t make your search partner decision on economics alone. It’s important to focus on big-picture growth, development of long-term relationships, and finding the best fit(s), rather than short-term numbers or putting bodies in seats.

A long-term relationship approach to a talent acquisition partnership will pay off in the form of a more efficient and effective selection process. This is because everyone is clear on process, accountability, and “fit” for your organization beyond simple resume review.

As a hiring company, you should know you can receive help from your search partner when working through your understanding of the desired role accountabilities, the right candidate experience, and other metrics needed to determine talent acquisition success.

If you’re looking to partner with an executive recruitment agency focused on relationship-based, long-term success, then you can you can learn more about Hunter + Esquire’s white-glove service and our rigorous candidate vetting process here.

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