Cannabis Companies—How to hire talent, save time and reduce turnover

Making the wrong hire is costly, a waste of time and stressful. Recruiting executive-level talent can be an especially challenging process. And this is especially true in the rapidly changing cannabis industry. 
Along with the difficulty of assessing intangible leadership traits, a cannabis company often has to navigate complex regulations and requirements, and sometimes career perception concerns from candidates outside the industry.
Even if you’re already attracting top executive talent, partnering with a recruiting firm will save you time and reduce the turnover of new hires. Here are three steps to follow in choosing the right executive recruitment agency for your cannabis business.
Make Sure the Agency Has Executive Recruiting Expertise in the Cannabis Industry
Make no mistake: Executive searches are big deals. Senior-level positions constitute critical leadership in the company.  An executive search is quite different from a hunt for your average department head. The search will certainly take more time and attention.
Executive-level candidates who have many years of experience are sure to ask tough questions not only about the role, but about the company, its culture and its plans for the future. When your company trusts a recruiting agency to find people you will be placing in key roles, you need to know that they have best practices in place for hiring C-Level executives.
Just because a firm has a track record of delivering entry-level talent doesn’t mean they’re necessarily qualified to find you a Chief Operating Officer. They have to approach hiring executives from a rigorous and strategic point of view. And they should ask good questions to get to know a lot about your company.
You need to consider an agency’s network connections too. An effective agency won’t solely rely on posting and sourcing from LinkedIn, as many candidates don’t openly include cannabis industry experience there. Recruiting agencies with experience in the industry will have a network of qualified candidates they can match to your company’s needs. They will also understand how to address some candidates’ career perception concerns. For example, there may be candidates who fear being banned from traveling to the US if they work for a cannabis company. By working with a recruiting agency on a contract basis, candidates are legally employed by the agency which can resolve this issue.      
“It has been challenging hiring C-suite talent,” says Derek Peterson, chief executive of publicly held Terra Tech Corp., which grows and sells cannabis for legal medical use in several U.S. states. The people you end up with as executives are people truly willing to take a risk,” Mr. Peterson observes in a recent article for The Wall Street Journal.
Whether you’re a producer, processor, brand/product, retailer or ancillary business your recruiting agency should understand how to address the specific issues of the cannabis industry to find, attract and retain the best executive talent possible.
Ask What Techniques the Agency Uses for Interviews and Pre-Employment Screenings
Uncovering the best candidates requires more than a resume review. Businesses can search for months to find an executive, especially in the cannabis industry with all its regulations and rules. Reviewing applicants can be a time-consuming process, especially when you’re struggling with integrating systems and processes quickly before legalization.
As a business owner, your time is better spent assisting your customers, managing your inventory and guiding your staff. Cannabis business owners can get so busy running the company that it can be difficult to find time for strategic activities such as ongoing team training and designing thorough hiring practices. When strategic hiring processes are not put in place from the beginning, management winds up being forced into a reactive, rather than a proactive role. Reactive leaders result in reactive employees, which result in inconsistent customer service, processes and procedures. Using a recruiting agency that has properly structured interviews, reliable assessments and pre-employment screenings for hiring will help you find the best fit for the long-term in the least amount of time.
Your recruiting agency should be focused on not only the skill requirements of your executive position but on your company’s culture as well. At Aplin, we undertake a particular type of assessment, called “psychometric testing,” to gain a complete picture of our clients’ candidates. Psychometric testing uncovers behavioural skills and a candidate’s “personal fit” with your organization. It can also be useful in predicting how a candidate will perform under pressure and in a quickly changing work environment.
Partnering with a recruiting agency that has an efficient and thorough vetting process can reduce the time and operating costs of your executive search. This also ensures you get only the most qualified candidates, which can reduce employee turnover down the road.
Check the Agency’s Track Record of Retaining Executive Talent for Their Clients
It doesn’t do your company any good if the candidate gets hired but then fails or quickly departs to work for a competitor. One of the toughest challenges in the legal cannabis sector is talent retention. There are numerous occasions where, specifically in marketing and sales, cannabis companies have lost candidates to other companies. In today’s increasingly turbulent business and economic landscape, about a third of promising new hires depart within three years after being recruited according to Harvard Business Review.
If a new high-level executive is to be more than a flash in the pan, a company must define the particular job skills it needs, and recruit and judge candidates accordingly. Making a good choice yields more than a good candidate — it can actually positively impact your company’s bottom line.
This is especially true for senior-level positions. Stable leadership helps an organization better optimize the capabilities of their staff and generate a more cohesive workforce that supports overall success. The typical cost of employing a recruiting agency for an executive search is negligible when compared with the return on investment of retaining your company’s executives. Building a culture of people who truly represent what your brand is, can also enhance your brand recognition for future recruiting efforts.
In order to help achieve this, a recruiting agency should partner with your cannabis company as an extension of your brand. They should dive deep and help you articulate the business solution you’re looking for and the type of person you need.
Now it’s time for you to choose the best recruiting agency for your cannabis company’s executive search. The David Aplin Group is one of Canada’s largest and most accomplished recruiting firms. Our agency of experienced recruiters are dedicated to connecting the best candidates to the right companies in the cannabis industry and other fields. If you’d like to learn more about how we can help your company find and retain top talent, contact a David Aplin Group consultant.