Virtual Job Fair Highlights Hiring Boom in Cannabis

With unemployment at an unprecedented rate, cannabis industry hiring is on the climb. Despite the relatively bleak economic atmosphere left in the wake of a global pandemic, the cannabis industry has been a beacon of hope. In fact, now may be the best time to step into a new career in a booming industry.

Cannabis Tech had an opportunity to speak with Karson Humiston, Founder at Vangst, one of the industry’s premiere cannabis hiring platforms. With more than 1,000 clients nationwide, Vangst is setting the stage for a virtual job fair to assist both job seekers and employers.

Q1: Karson, thanks so much for taking some time out of your day to discuss the cannabis industry’s state and current hiring initiatives. Obviously, when unemployment is the worst it has been in decades, Americans need jobs. Talk to me a little bit about how the cannabis industry could fill that gap and help reduce the impact of a national crisis.

Like most industries, COVID hit cannabis businesses hard, and during Q2, we noticed a slowdown with many companies putting on a hiring freeze or even reducing headcount. But the recovery has been faster than most, and employers are back on track with aggressive growth initiatives. Both new legal states and mature markets are seeing exponential growth, and consumer interest in cannabis is still at an all-time high, and many businesses are accelerating hiring to stay competitive.

We’ve seen talent interest really go up across the board. Candidate interest is coming in from various sectors – especially areas like retail, hospitality, restaurants, and gaming. It’s not uncommon for crossover candidates to come to us, citing the recession as a motivation for exploring a career in cannabis. These folks have been curious about cannabis for a while but hadn’t been motivated previously to make the transition from a mainstream career that might have felt more stable before the pandemic shifted the job market.

Q2: Let’s talk about some of the jobs you’re looking to fill in the cannabis industry. Is there a particular role you see in higher demand than others? What about advanced roles, such as engineers, scientists, and C-level roles? Do you see many of these roles needing to be filled?

We’re seeing a marked increase in demand for sales reps, eCommerce and marketing roles, and delivery drivers this year. Our internal data also has staple cannabis industry jobs like packaging, trimming, retail, and director-level roles still in high demand as well.

As the industry continues to mature, businesses are bringing on sales reps and marketing teams to help differentiate their product from competitors. States are loosening restrictions on delivery services for both medical and recreational purposes, leading to a jump in drivers and logistics coordinators. Opportunities for hourly positions like budtending, packaging, and trimming are rising in lock-step with the growth of emerging markets.

Q3: Now, let’s talk about the difficulties of hiring during a pandemic. Obviously, we’re supposed to be limiting our contact with people outside of our own homes, so this creates a challenge to meet and interview a large pool of potential candidates. Discuss the technology Vangst uses for this virtual job fair and how it can improve the hunt for job seekers and employers alike.

Obviously, social distancing guidelines have caused us to overhaul our live events, but one silver lining is that a virtual career fair allows us to bring in a broader audience all at once to talk shop. For employers, especially multi-state operators, they’ll have an even deeper pool of candidates to choose from since it’s not region-specific.

Additionally, we’re putting a heavy focus on adding new feature sets and easier ways to connect, network, and explore opportunities on our Vangst.com platform. Some exciting specific updates to keep an eye out for are enhancements to both company and candidate profiles on the site, providing a richer opportunity for employer branding and personal branding when it comes to the cannabis professional community we’re building.

Q4: So, let’s dive into the details – I’m assuming this more than just Zoom interviews. Can you tell the audience about a few of the highlights of the job fair? What can people expect from the event? Why should they attend?

The fair will definitely be more than just Zoom interviews, so if you’re sick of aimless Zoom meetings, we are too, and we’ve taken that into consideration. We’ll be putting a lot of our energy and enthusiasm on display and making our panels and workshop sessions really interactive.

If you’re a job seeker, the career fair is really going to be a choose your adventure. We’ve got hiring reps from dozens of top cannabis companies, and you can preview available job listings ahead of time and submit applications. If you’re looking to volunteer and get involved with the advocacy side of things, we’ve got nonprofits exhibiting at the fair. If you want to learn more about what Vangst can do for your job search, we’ll have a buzzing Vangst GIGS booth where you can launch into exciting temporary work as a career stepping stone, or you can connect in the main Vangst booth to learn more about our direct hiring services and inquire about direct hire searches we’re handling for our clients.

Some amazing panels are also in store, covering brand building, cannabis policy, women in leadership, and venture capital in the green rush era (which, shameless plug, I’m moderating).

Q5: There’s also a social equity component to this job fair. Can you tell us about the Last Prisoner Project’s involvement and how you hope to support that initiative?

The way we view social equity is that it’s everyone’s responsibility — not left to just one or two special interest groups — it’s up to all of us working in cannabis to step up and do the right thing. With the war on drugs still keeping qualified and hard-working candidates from job opportunities today, our goal is to be accountable and lower entry barriers into the industry for social equity workers.

Our business model allows us to work directly with both cannabis employers and job seekers, which allows us to facilitate conversations about social equity. That’s where partnering with the Last Prisoner Project made sense. LPP’s founder, Steve DeAngelo, will be moderating our opening panel on Wednesday, and he’ll be interviewing two justice impacted women, Evelyn LaChapelle and Stephanie Shephard, and outlining the Prison to Prosperity Reentry Services & Mentorship Program we’ve partnered on.

Q6: Finally, Karson – how do people get signed up?

Head to Vangst.com and click the main Career Fair banner, that’ll bring you to our event page where you can register, see the lineup speakers and brands in attendance, and look through the agenda for panels you want to attend.

The Vangst Virtual Cannabis Career Fair is putting social equity workers front and center. As 3,000+ job seekers line up to meet with the top brands in cannabis, social equity candidates will receive wait priority from all participating employers. The effort is designed to lower the barrier to employment for social equity candidates, individuals who have past cannabis arrests and/or convictions or have otherwise been disproportionately impacted by America’s War on Drugs. Vangst has partnered with three nonprofit organizations focused on social equity, policy reform, and transformative justice in cannabis – Last Prisoner Project, Mission Green, and California Cannabis Coalition. Attendees at the Career Fair will be able to find information on volunteering, advocacy, and mentoring opportunities as well as career opportunities.

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