A Guide to Recruiting Candidates from Other Industries

Liz Moore/Jun 18, 2020

hero-graphic-A Guide to Recruiting Candidates from Other Industries

By 2025, the U.S. cannabis industry is projected to exceed $66 billion in revenue. Naturally, job growth is following suit. Cannabis jobs increased by 15% year-over-year as of December 2019. And as the industry grows, so is outside interest in joining the world of cannabis. So why should you think about recruiting cannabis candidates from other industries, and how should you do it? We’ll break it down for you in this blog post.



If you’re reading this, you may already be asking, “why look outside the cannabis industry in the first place?” Defaulting to your known circle of colleagues and contacts is easy, and existing cannabis pros who already know the ins and outs of the industry are an obvious and attractive option. But history shows that many of the greatest businesses are born where tenured experience and innovative new perspective intersect. Here are some of the key benefits of recruiting cannabis candidates from another sector.

  • Bring specific expertise to your team: Your team may have cannabis experts in spades, but process expertise, speciality skillsets, and deep business development know-how are critical to any growing business.
  • Introduce fresh new perspective: When you build a team , it’s easy to find yourself in an echo-chamber of ideas and opinions. Over-focusing on how you’ve always done things “what’s worked before” can be fatal to innovation. By diversifying your range of experiences and perspectives, you can keep a competitive edge over companies who value cannabis experience only.
  • Level up your expertise: As your company grows, you’ll inevitably need to find leaders with specialized experience in areas critical to your organizational health. And because the cannabis industry is less than a decade old, it can be hard to find that depth of expertise in your usual recruiting circles. By recruiting from outside sectors, you can bring on leaders who have decades of experience in their area of expertise.



If you’re bought in to the value of recruiting experienced professionals who can bring valuable skills and perspective to your team, getting started is next. Here’s how you can hit the ground running and build the cannabis dream team to take your business to new heights:


For many professionals who work outside of cannabis, the idea of transitioning to an industry that is still federally illegal is a major barrier. In fact, nearly half of candidates who are offered director-level roles in the industry decline due to concerns over limiting their chances of returning to a more traditional business sector later on. Layer on personal biases about the plant and a lack of education regarding how the industry really works, and you can have a major challenge on your hands when it comes to bringing on top-notch outside talent.

The solution? Educate, educate, educate. Make sure you’re talking to candidates from the get-go about why you are in the industry, and the difference that cannabis makes. Many professionals may be unaware of advances in non-psychoactive cannabidiol (CBD) products or the latest research highlighting the very real mental and physical wellness benefits of the plant in general. Early education is also a great time to let recruitment hopefuls know about new and promising progress toward federal legalization. Highlighting cannabis’ “essential” designation throughout the COVID-19 crisis is a powerful way to underscore the legitimacy of the business.


For many pros, the financial prospects of a career change to the cannabis industry can be an extremely attractive option. Cannabis has proven to be recession-resistant in a time when many other sectors have been overwhelmingly hobbled by the economic impacts of COVID-19, and the appeal of joining a new and booming industry is strong. Take advantage of this reality by offering competitive packages for outside industry pros who can take your company to the next level, and remember that there are many incentives you can build into your offer to create interest:

  • Provide benefits like Summer Fridays and Powder Days, regular team outings, flexible remote policies, and unlimited vacation that many traditional industries haven’t yet embraced
  • Offer equity and ISO options that enable candidates to feel like they are personally bound to your company’s future success
  • Use Vangst’s 2019 Salary Guide to ensure your base pay, bonus structures, and benefits packages are current, competitive, and comprehensive


A lot of people unconcerned with the potential stigma of the cannabis industry simply aren’t aware of rapid job growth and opportunities available in the industry. Work with your marketing team to find high-potential professionals who may not yet be considering a career in cannabis, only because they don’t know it’s a real possibility. A great place to start in 2020 is focusing on industries that have been forced to lay off large percentages of their workforce. Seasoned professionals bringing experience from traditional retail, hospitality, food & beverage, and travel industries can be amazing natural fits for the fast-paced, people-focused cannabis industry.


While being a heavily regulated industry can have its drawbacks, several other sectors have already set a blueprint for success. Just look at the pharmaceutical, alcohol, and gaming industries, to name a few. By recruiting managerial and director-level cannabis candidates from other highly regulated sectors to, you can add valuable business perspective to your team that compliments your existing cannabis expertise.


At the end of the day, we get it: hiring is tough. Successful recruitment strategy requires time, investment, and know-how, and expanding your search outside of the cannabis industry can feel overwhelming. That’s where Vangst comes in. We’ve been in the industry since it was born, and in that time we’ve helped more than 700 clients fill thousands of roles, from the front counter all the way to the C-Suite. And we know how to recruit from other industries, because that’s where many of us came from ourselves! With the most experienced recruiters in the business and a diverse array of perspectives all committed to sourcing the best talent across the globe, Vangst is here to handle all of your recruiting needs so you can focus on your business.

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