I saw this post in another MMJ industry sub a few months back. It was written by someone in another state, but as someone looking to hire for our facilities, I wish everyone who applies would read this. Credit to blunt
-e and shared with permission
What's a cannabis job really like? First things first. It's a job. It's a job that involves working with cannabis, but it's a job. It's not going to be all bong-rips and rainbows. Personally I love the industry, it's challenging, always varied, and a passion of mine. Don't get me wrong, it's pretty cool the first time you see 1,000lbs of weed. Then after a while you look at it and go "oh shit my back already hurts from standing for the last 12 hours and I have to get it off this damn truck and do like 2hrs of paperwork". Some companies are awesome to work for, some are shitty, it's life. I've heard some horror stories about shops being set up to churn and burn, minimum pay for crazy output. Anyway, what do the jobs look like? note, this is more from the point of view of an entry level position, obviously a cultivation directors general duties are going to be somewhat different than that of a starting out employee
Cultivation: Here is one area that gets a lot of people applying with very unrealistic expectations. I mean, back in the day when you're burning a few with your buddies, who didn't dream of growing weed? It'll be sweet, smoking a blunt, snipping on the plants, bumping some sweet tunes... Dude, it's farming. Ever met a lazy farmer? Here's what a job as new cultivation tech looks like: Hauling bags of grow medium, Cleaning reservoirs, Cleaning floors, flood tables, etc... Lot of cleaning. You'll feel like a janitor. As you gain trust you will begin to be shown how to do things like mix nutrients, take clones, etc... When you work with plants, it's tying up branches and snipping dead leaves. Always looking for pests. Some facilities has everyone help w/ harvest, some places it's a dedicated crew. Trimming is an easy job to get because it has a high turnover. It's a very "keep up the pace or get out" kind of job. Some places pay by the lb, which means if you can keep up a high output you can make decent money, other places are hourly w/ bonus for exceeding goals. At my last facility I saw a lot of 21yo kids come and go because the job wasn't as "Chill" as they had hoped for it to be.
Manufacturing: Honestly this one can be rough unless you like that sort of thing. Sitting at a production line, putting variable labels on things, folding boxes, putting inserts into boxes, running a capping machine, swapping trays on a filling machine (and loading/unloading the trays), etc... it can be monotonous. But it can also be a great way to get your foot in the door as it's a less competitive labor pool than cultivation or budtending. A high output mfr facility looks great on your work history, and you can start picking up an understanding of Track and Trace, etc..
Extraction: Manufacturing but w/ hazards! A lot of the same packaging stuff, but also extraction. The work can be fairly physically demanding. You need to be good about record keeping. Be prepared for long hours, as processes don't always conform to the 8hr work day. Be ok w/ being given what seems like charlie work, especially when you're new, such as packing material socks or milling material. Some of the parts of the job can be rough, we do a lot of Fresh Frozen and so that means suiting up and packing/milling in the walk-in freezer at -20c, but on the bright side it smells fantastic in there! It's important to learn everything you can as fast as you can, and opportunities open up quickly.
What are my opportunities for promotion? Depends on your company, but based off my experience, if you show up on-time, don't show up high/hungover, and work hard, you will stand out. The industry is hungry for hard-workers. Like, super hungry for competent people. If you put your time in, and build some networking, you will be able to find work, especially if you're able/willing to relocate to chase good opportunities.
How do I get a job in cannabis? Well, how picky are you? Because assuming you live in a state in which it's legalized in some form, and you live near a population center in which cannabis operators, er, operate. You can probably find facilities that are hiring. As I said, many facilities churn and burn employees. It's a fact. But you want to persevere, awesome! Look on indeed or other job boards. Go to company websites and see if they have a 'hiring' or other employment application link. Then apply. It's really that simple! That said, every-time we put up a listing I get HUNDREDS of applications. So assuming you don't have "Manufacturing Supervisor for Kurvana" on your resume, you are going to need to learn how to stand out and you are going to need to maybe be willing to take a job you outside of your particular area of interest to get your 'foot in the door'. Maybe you really want to be a cannabis extractor, well that's a tough job to get sometimes. But if you put in 6 months working in packaging, now you've got some skills, some frame of reference about the industry, a brand name on your resume, hopefully a good referral, and possibly the chance to transfer to a department that you're passionate about.
Advice for getting hired One sad truth of any industry, is the 'ol catch-22 of you need experience to get the job, but to get the job you need the experience. Just go and try getting hired as a bartender with zero-knowledge of tending bar. Unless you meet a very specific physical description chances are you're not going to get the job. Any industry is going to generally prioritize applicants with experience over those with none. That said, there are ways to level the playing field.
First, write a good resume. Make sure it's well laid out, spell check the damn thing. Have someone else spell check it. I know I'm not hiring for a position as an English teacher, but if your resume has "detale orrientede" under "skills" we've already gotten off on the wrong foot. Your resume is your chance to compress who you are and why I should hire you into a page or two. List your relevant experience if you have it. I can't tell you how often I have candidates apply through indeed and answer the question form asking 'how many years of industry experience do you have?' with something like "5" but then their resume lists a string of jobs none of which are in cannabis. I know, it was shades of grey for a while there, but consider making a separate cannabis industry resume if you don't want that stuff on your regular job resume.
I've been an amateublack/grey market grower and/or extractor for 4 years is that relevant? Sure, somewhat...depends a lot on how you did things and at what scale. Don't expect the Cultivation Director at a thousand light facility to be super impressed by the 2lbs you pulled per year out a tent, even if it was "super fire". Think about if you wanted to get a job at a regular farm, would the owner be impressed by the tomato plant you grew in a pot on your patio? Same w/ extraction. If you have legit non-regulated experience, that's fine, mention it. Make a production portfolio, and attach it. If you can grow some sweet diamonds, I'll definitely take that into account.
However... DON'T OVERSTATE YOUR EXPERIENCE. Honest to god, I get so many of these. "Master Extractor" "5 Years Experience BHO Extraction" Etc... Cool, but expect for me to ask some (imo) pretty basic questions up to some pretty advanced questions. If you apply to work at Stone Brewery claiming to be a master brewer, expect your interview to be very different than if you say you're a home brew enthusiast who is eager to learn. If you tell me on your resume that you are a "master hydrocarbon extractor" and you don't know what the term LEL is ...I'm going to probably think that you might have been a bit dishonest with me and you're going to have a bad time on your phone interview. So, be honest about your experience, but be realistic. I don't expect every applicant to have the ability to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on equipment to learn with, and if you're straight w/ me that's fine. But claim to be a master and get interviewed with that expectation.
WRITE A COVER LETTER. Honestly. Do it. Do it for every company you apply to. Keep it short, sweet, and to the point. Who you are, why you want to work for our company, why you would be a great asset to the team. Make it specific to the company you're applying to, particularly if you're going through a job board type site like indeed. It shows the hiring manager that you took the extra two to three minutes to look us up, see what we're about, and personalized your application. it makes you a person not just another one of the hundreds of resumes we got. I get so few cover letters and I just don't understand why. It puts you at the top of the pile, it really does.
Want to know a true fact? I give 98% of the people who wrote a cover letter a call for a phone interview (the 2% who don't get calls are because their resume is trash or they are clearly a crazy person). So write one. It doesn't need to be the next great american novel, but spend a few minutes on it. Now you have a solid resume, and know about the cover letters, it's time to bring out the big guns. This is my gift to you for reading this far: Learn the rules and Regs for your state. Go online, find the relevant laws, rules, etc... Print them out, and read them. Take notes. Act like you are studying for the SAT. Put "Extremely Knowledgeable in CA or AZ or WA or wherever you live Regulations and Laws on your resume and in your cover letter. Expect to be asked a question or two. If asked how you know anything about it, and you answer "I wanted to get into the industry so I studied the laws in order to be a better asset to the company." you will get put on the top of the job applicant pile. Guaranteed. You want to really "wow" the hiring manager? You want to knock their socks off? You want to get that job, experience in the industry be damned? Go and get yourself certified in METRC or BIOTRACK in addition to the regs. Honestly? If I had an applicant who had ZERO experience in the industry, was 21 years old and wrote in his cover letter that he was so devoted to the cannabis game that he went and got a METRC cert and learned the CA BCC/CDPH Rules and Regs...I'd hire him on the spot. I don't give a shit if his last job was retrieving shopping carts. That would tell me he was in it to win it and I'd keep an eye on him for advancement. Guaranteed. What about Oaksterdam or THCUniversity or SmokeWeedErrDay Academy? More sad truth time: I don't care about those. I don't know of anyone else in a hiring position in the industry that gives a 'degree' from one of those non-accredited online cannabis 'degree' mills any credence. Maybe I'm wrong, Chime in below if you are a hiring manager for whomever and you look at a 4 week online program from Oaksterdam and think "I should hire that guy". I mean, if you want to do it to learn something, cool, but I don't think I've ever seen it on someones resume and thought anything other than "huh, neat" and given it no additional weight past the rest of their resume. Honestly, I've had employees that have done courses through programs like that and they had some weird ideas about how things were done. Exception: Professional Development Education or learning specific skills or processes. There are some cool courses you can take that will teach you basics, in a lab setting, on certain processes such as SPD, WFD, Isolation, etc...I always like seeing that and have done some myself. I want a degree that will set me up for a future career in cannabis, what do you recommend? Well, what do you want to do? Extraction/Manufacturing: O-Chem is a one that a lot of shops like to see, but I like Chemical Engineers. I just hired a kid right out of school, and he's been fitting in great. Way I've always looked at it is "chemists figure out how to make a chemical process happen, and chemical engineers figure out how to make it happen at scale" Cultivation: Should be abit of a no-brainer right? Something Plant or Agricultural science oriented. Anything Else: Well, business degrees are always good for, well, business positions. It's an industry like any other, if you want to be the guy/girl telling the other guys/girls what to do a business degree isn't a bad idea, unless you want to specialize (advertising, Social Media Marketing, Software design, etc..) Anyway, thank you for reading all of this, hope it is of some help to y'all.
*Thanks for the silver. We are about to start hiring for our grow facilities and dispensary in OKC. If interested, shoot me a message and I'll send you my email address to your can send your resume. It's hard work, but it's rewarding and much less stressful than any other job I've ever had. Looking for someone who I can hand one facility off to, in time, while I bring other ones online.