Getting a Foot in the Door of the Cannabis Industry
The cannabis market is a rising industry with multiple career paths that can lead to great success. These careers draw heavily from non-cannabis fields of employment for desired skills and experience because they are often alike, with the major difference being cannabis. Good communication skills are your best asset, on your resume, as relating past work experience to a job in the dispensary, explaining the use or benefits of cannabis in your life, and in your interview talking about your personal experiences will set you apart from the hundreds of other applicants who just need a job. Experience within the industry, or before laws changed, is always desired, but will never be a guarantee of a job. A common question to anyone working in a dispensary, is “How do I get a job here?” I often tell those who ask to bring an updated resume in, ask if a manager is available to speak with about a job and keep it up until you get an interview.
Cannabis AND Practical Work Experience Matter
Despite my vast experience in cannabis, my first dispensary job in AZ was only landed after submitting my resume everywhere for over a year. It was another six months of interviews beyond that, and the focus was not on my past experience in cannabis, but on what skills I could bring to the dispensary to benefit the team. The talent pool that MMJ attracts is large, and filled with every type of experience related to cannabis. Those that stand out are those who have that cannabis experience along with practical work experience to add to their knowledge.
Emotional intelligence and empathy are qualities most desired in this industry because your daily interactions require you to learn about issues facing your patients and to know how to better their lives.
I often spoke from my experience in food, beverage, and hospitality to explain how I can ease people through the discomfort of new surroundings and product options. I pulled from my experience teaching music and new techniques to relate my ability to educate others about the details of cannabis products, or explaining how they’re made. My experience as a chef is something I’d often use to demonstrate my leadership and organizational skills along with my ability to think on my feet. When in your interview, the importance of communicating how your work experience in other work fields can be applied to working in a dispensary. It’s a brave new world, so be honest but creative in how you get your points across.
Be Thoughtful When Speaking About Your Cannabis Experience
Be prepared to speak about your own cannabis experiences. I was surprised by many of these interviews when I was asked about my personal experience with cannabis, but it makes sense when you think through the vast patient pool, each with their own experiences and needs, that we encounter in dispensaries. I explained how my life was impacted by a birth defect causing chronic leg/hip pain, and how cannabis is my alternative to opioids. Emotional intelligence and empathy are qualities most desired in this industry because your daily interactions require you to learn about issues facing your patients and to know how to better their lives. I took that lesson and became dedicated to learning about all forms of cannabis and how various ailments can be treated. This shift in my thinking led to my most successful interviews as leaders saw my compassion and understanding as unique when paired with my experience.
The other advantage I gained was research, in researching what problems medicinal users faced, I decided to learn more about health and wellness. Understanding how cannabis affects the body, and how these ailments are treated with modern medicine allowed me to communicate a deeper understanding of holistic health using cannabis.
The last looming questions from a dispensary that might consider hiring you is, how, and what are your cannabis habits? Your answer shouldn’t be, “Blunts all day,” nor is it “Wake and bake broski!” but if you thought it was, I don’t blame you. I am a frequent user of cannabis in all forms, that would be my answer for most situations, be it for a job or in everyday life. This statement is vague, which allows you time to better filter and tailor your answer to the ideals of the dispensary. It can be seen as a risk if you medicate too heavily, and for some dispensaries, it is a deal breaker.
The dispensary life is beyond awesome, but it is still a job that requires you to be at your best to serve others. Someone who does not use cannabis, but instead only partakes in CBD could say they, explore options when medicating lightly. This is vague again and allows you to approach the subject at a pace that you are comfortable with. An admission of not using cannabis or THC can degrade your credibility or could be seen as a positive depending on the views of patients and leadership.
The Best Advice, Be Yourself
I have interviewed with many dispensaries, multiple times over several years, and I get feedback that I am consistent with who I am and what I have to offer. The experiences you’ve worked for and how you communicate the assets you possess to future employers will shape your start in cannabis. In any interview, try to remain open, answer honestly, and don’t be afraid to ask questions of your own. It is important to make adjustments to your resume to suit the cannabis industry, and think about how to best position yourself when answering questions in an interview. The best advice is to be yourself, as people want to be reassured that the people, they see on a day to day basis will be a positive influence on their livelihood. In this industry, authenticity and a positive outlook can only reinforce whatever knowledge or experience you bring along with you.