David Bernstein Talks Cannabis Employment Trends

David Bernstein

David Bernstein, founder and CEO of WeedHire discusses broad cannabis employment trends, where the jobs are and more.

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Key Takeaways:
[0:52] – WeedHire’s background
[1:23] – David discusses different features on WeedHire
[2:10] – David talks about different jobs in the cannabis industry
[5:00] – David explains how employers browse through prospects
[6:03] – What job seekers are looking for right now
[8:51] – Popular question, I don’t consume cannabis, can I be in this industry?
[10:13] – David talks about the dispersion of jobs available
[12:58] – When a state votes to legalize what are the first jobs to emerge
[15:46] – Tips for employers to make their job opening stand out
[18:48] – Intelligent questions job seekers can ask in the interview process
[20:27] – Contact details for WeedHire

Click Here to Read Full Transcript

Matthew: Hi, I’m Matthew Kind. Every Monday and Wednesday look for a fresh new episode where I’ll take you behind the scenes and interview the insiders that are shaping the rapidly evolving cannabis industry. Learn more at www.cannainsider.com. That’s www.cannainsider.com. Are you looking for a fulfilling and lucrative career in the cannabis industry? Visit www.cannainsider.com/careers. That’s www.cannainsider.com/careers. Now here’s your program.

Our next guest is David Bernstein founder and CEO of WeedHire a cannabis jobs board that connects cannabis employers with prospective employees. David welcome to CannaInsider.

David: Thank you so much.

Matthew: So just give us a little background. What is WeedHire exactly and why would I want to use it?

David: Well WeedHire is actually affectionately known in the industry now as the Monster.com of marijuana. Essentially it’s a jobs board that really becomes a gateway for individuals looking to enter the workforce of legal cannabis and for employers to really find the most qualified job applicants to really help grow their business.

Matthew: Okay. And how does it work for job seekers? Do you simply upload your resume? Do you build a profile? How does it work?

David: Well there’s a number of unique features to WeedHire that allow for a job seeker to upload their resume, really research companies so that they can make a good representation of their interest in working with a company, and they can actually message one-on-one to employers in a safe environment. So it’s really a way to sell yourself to employers in this sector because of the wide ranging opportunities that exist. A lot of employers are looking for well-rounded people to help grow their organizations.

Matthew: Okay. And let’s take a 10,000 foot view here. What’s going on in the cannabis industry in terms of jobs? Is there anything that surprises you or is there any jobs that you’re saying wow this is interesting I never would have thought of this as a job category, but here people are posting it? What can you tell us?

David: Well it’s really exciting because as opposed to the internet when the internet first sort of launched and the jobs market was impacted by it, a lot of technology focused individuals entered the workforce. What’s beautiful about legal cannabis is that there’s so many wide ranging opportunities for employment that it doesn’t really discriminate. If you’ve got an interest, whether you’re in agriculture, whether you’re in water filtration or lighting or growing or even sales, there’s a unique opportunity in legal cannabis for you. I have seen wide ranging job descriptions and opportunities. Everything from a candy maker to a cannabis friendly rabbi.

So you really get a unique seat at the table from where we are here at WeedHire because the industry is growing at such a pace you can really see the demands for a lot of skill sets that would be very similar to other industries whether it’s bookkeeping, sales, accounting, legal operations, security. It’s really a wonderful opportunity because the industry itself doesn’t necessarily require a lot of experience in cannabis. So your unique skill sets can actually shine bright when you’re looking for a job in legal cannabis because it’s not necessarily about knowledge of the cannabis itself, depending on the job function. It’s really about you as a person and your belief that legal cannabis can be a career for you.

Matthew: Great point there. And one of the things I’ve noticed in the cannabis industry is that it’s still mostly startups. There’re not these huge monolithic businesses. So a person that’s posting a job on WeedHire it’s much more likely that you’re closer to the decision maker than say if you were applying to Xerox or some giant company where there’s all these formal processes. Would you agree with that?

David: I would. I think that’s very much the case, and there’s pros and cons to that because a lot of these small businesses are going through any growing pains that any small business would go through. Obviously we’re dealing in a little bit more of a challenging environment because of the legal status of cannabis, however owners of these businesses are really looking for partners to help them grow their businesses. As any industry that’s on an explosive growth path, you can see the eventual entry of pharmaceutical, of tobacco, of a host of other major type entities. So the best thing people can do now and even these business owners is grow their businesses in a sound, disciplined manner and that obviously incorporates hiring good people.

Matthew: Now from the employer point of view, how do they browse through prospects in an intelligent way?

David: Well the website has a resume search function. So there is an opportunity for them to research candidates, interested candidates and overall the entire database of candidates through WeedHire. Effective April 2nd that will be a billable subscription service. It’s a very nominal fee of $4.20 per month. So the employers can scan through what we would consider to be really qualified job applicants because to get into the WeedHire system you do need to register. You do need to provide some background on yourself, and that lends itself to a little bit more of a serious job candidate. So the employer when he’s screening the resume database will really hopefully have access to a wide variety of individuals that really really care about entering the workforce and really believe it’s something more than just let’s say being a user of cannabis.

Matthew: So what jobs are job seekers looking for right now? I mean does it tend to be in a few buckets? What can you tell us?

David: I think that job seekers right now are really across the board looking for experience in any part of the industry that they can. For the most part you’re seeing a lot of job seekers interested in being involved with the plant. Speaking more in terms of the wide variety, the larger percentage of job seekers because these are mostly people that don’t have industry experience, however they want to get into the industry and understand how it works. So certainly bud tenders. There’s a lot of interest in becoming bud tenders certainly. Being involved in trimming which there’s an area that if you are looking to get into the industry and you don’t mind doing it at an entry level, that’s a high demand job that could be obtained. Certainly I think in the edibles market which I think is going to be a huge marketplace as the industry evolves, those individuals that have experience in baking or cooking really there’s going to be an evolution of how cannabis is used as time goes on. So that’s a great opportunity for those looking for a job in the sector.

Matthew: Right and trim is kind of an interesting thing because you’re usually doing it with a few other people and it’s monotonous work, but you learn a lot about the plant, and you learn a lot from the people you’re typically doing it with about the culture, about the different things with the plant. So it is, like I said, monotonous but is a great stepping stone into something else because if you’re doing trim, you’re usually talking with the growers and the growers are telling you things. You’re learning about the curing process, and it’s a great way to get your foot in the door when you really don’t have any skills to offer.

David: Absolutely, and another interesting point that we see on WeedHire is that believe it or not the minimum wage jobs, the entry level jobs are higher than the normal industry job standards, and I think that has a lot to do with the fact that these employers really do want to hire good people. Obviously when you hire a job or hire an employee in an industry as a small business, if that employee doesn’t work out it’s costly to the business. In this industry a bad hire can actually put the employer in jail. And so they’re willing to pay a little bit more even at the entry level for people that are passionate about really developing a career in the industry, but the challenge is always finding those people and doing the best that you can to qualify them so that they blend in with the organization.

Matthew: Now one question I get asked and I’m sure you do to and it strikes me somewhat odd, but I guess when you’re looking from the outside in it’s not. And that is hey I don’t consume cannabis, can I be in this industry? What do you say to that David?

David: I say absolutely. I say that you have just as good of an opportunity if not better in some cases, depending on the job function. These are business owners. They’re looking to grow their business just like any other industry. They are looking for the most qualified people they can find. They’re looking for people that are reliable and people that see legal cannabis as a career. And so I would say to those individuals that you have a great opportunity, and we’ve actually seen in talking to some dispensary owners about the type of applicants they’re seeing to work in their operations, a large percentage of them are not cannabis users. And so my advice to anyone who is not a user, if you believe this is an industry that interests you, and we see the healthcare benefits and it will become part of the healthcare industry just on its own and separate of all the other opportunities, you should go for it. You should absolutely not be intimidated by it, and again it’s like any other job, any other business. Employers are looking for the best candidates.

Matthew: What state has the most abundant jobs would you say right now. I mean I know California is a huge marketplace with 40 million people, but we have 23 states now where cannabis is legal in some regard. What can you tell us about the dispersion of jobs available?

David: Well it’s interesting. Time is definitely the factor, the biggest factor in how mature either the medical or recreational cannabis laws are in a state which directly translates into the job’s growth. Colorado clearly has seen a tremendous amount of jobs growth as we’re going to be discussing in our next quarterly cannabis jobs report, how the state had issued licenses several years ago in comparison to 2014, and how the size of applicants and the size of companies that are registering quadrupled. Which lends itself to the states that have the licenses and the permits issued will become, as time goes on, the more favorable states in terms of amount of job opportunities.

Colorado and California, California being the most with the longest time under its belt as a medical cannabis state, has the most jobs. Colorado is very much closing the gap behind Colorado, I’m sorry, behind California, and we’re seeing Washington and Oregon and Illinois and Massachusetts and Arizona, as these programs become more and more mature and standardized, the jobs growth follows. It’s a formula we’re seeing now, and it’s beautiful to watch. So the biggest barrier to the growth of the jobs in all these states and states that come on board in the future is really the government within that state and then how they administer the programs and allow the businesses to set up and then hire.

Matthew: Great points. It is a beautiful thing to watch because here in Colorado you see a lot more specialization going on because the market’s becoming more mature. There’s people that can have a great business having, you know, just identifying, you know, problems in plants or infections or funguses or molds or insects, all these things that would really be considered just kind of an esoteric knowledge set before now. You can create a business around that and go around to different cultivators and help them. So it’s amazing to see how entrepreneurs and how businesses can evolve when there’s a market, and obviously you’re not going to have something like that right away in a brand new state, but it comes after a couple of years. In that vein talking about mature cannabis markets versus a brand new market, let’s say, there’s a state that comes online, maybe a listener is listening and it’s not legal in their state yet, but next year in 2016 it will be. What are the first kind of, the first jobs that emerge when a state decides to legalize?

David: Well we would define it as manufacturing. Go growers would be very much in demand. Skilled, as they call, master growers are very high profile individuals in the industry. They are getting salaries in the $80,000 to $100,000 a year range. They are very sought after. And these are horticulturists. These are people that understand the growth of the plant, and certainly how to implement a large scale grow operation which is I think the first and foremost area you’re going to see a lot of growth in jobs. Again it’s the trimming, the manufacturing side and of course then it gets into the retail or the dispensary side of the jobs. We’re seeing very much that methodical growth. It becomes manufacturing, and it becomes distribution resale, and those are the fundamental sort of jobs that start to spring up when the states go.

I do want to add one point for the listeners. The November election in 2016 is going to be significant for the industry. I think everybody’s sort of talked about that. One of the things WeedHire is very focused on is paying more attention to what the jobs growth will be as a result of those states passing either medical or recreational laws. There’s an interesting statistic that came out. ADP provides a national employment report every month on the jobs growth in the United States. And in February 2015 ADP said that there were 212,000 jobs that were created in the month of February, 94,000 of those jobs were small businesses, 1 to 49 employees.

So the interesting thing about that statistic is cannabis is probably not really represented in that. Because of the banking laws and the challenges associated with having payroll and having banking relationships, as we know, in many cases many of these dispensaries and businesses that handle the plant are actually operating in a cash business. So the point I’m making with all this is that if you do live in a state that is not necessarily legal today, but maybe there’s discussion clearly for elections coming up, specifically in the November election in 2016, number on go out and vote. Please go out and vote in favor of it, but number two realize that you have a unique opportunity to be part of the industry that is going to be here for a long time, and the jobs growth it’s not as traceable as we would like it to be right now because again how it’s classified. Be aware if you can get experience, you can have a unique opportunity to be part of this industry for the rest of your life.

Matthew: Now for an employer that really wants to make their job opening stand out, do you have any suggestions?

David: Well certainly. WeedHire has some services again, fee-based services that allow the employers to profile their jobs at a little bit more of a featured place on the website. Certainly talk to your customers and your job applicants. You can market yourself on WeedHire. You can post YouTube videos. You can really help the candidates learn about your business. Get them excited about working for you. I think that’s one of the things that they can do. Certainly like any job that’s looking to hire have a job description that’s clear, concise, specific about what you’re looking for. Communicate through WeedHire, through the one-on-one messaging with the potential candidates if you like to really understand who they are, and leverage some of the other tools on WeedHire, one of them being a service called Hireology that will help them promote their jobs’ availability as well as screen the employee candidates. So it’s really about what you do and it’s no different than selling to your customers if you’re in the industry. Sell to the employee candidates. Get them excited, get them to really want to work for you so that the best comes out.

Matthew: In your experience are there any questions that do a better job of helping understand what an employee’s all about? I mean what questions do you ask if you’re hiring someone? What are some good questions?

David: Well I think it’s about long term commitment. I think it’s about looking for the reliable people. Asking them about their goals and objectives in life. What do they want to achieve? And I’m not just saying in cannabis, I think it also has to do a lot with the people and what they’re all about. If you’re going to work for a job in cannabis, obviously you’re excited about being around the plant and being involved with the plant, but using the plant is not necessarily something employers want to know about necessarily right up front. So they’re looking to really understand skill sets. What do you bring to my organization that fills the need that I have, and what way do you address problems and solutions and how do you work with others? It’s really no different than any other industry, any other challenge that a small business goes through in trying to hire the right people. The one thing obviously we have to be sensitive to is what we’re dealing with as the product. And so there lies the reliability factor and the trustworthiness going far beyond what a lot of other industries may have to look for initially out of a candidate.

Matthew: Now at the end of an interview it’s pretty common for an employer to ask do you have an questions for me. And I feel like that’s a great opportunity to kind of make sure you address any objections they might have on their mind, but also kind of sell your unique selling proposition. Do you have any questions you can lend to prospective employees or job seekers, you know, to make sure that they ask intelligent questions when it comes to that point in the interview?

David: Absolutely. I think like any job that you’re looking or any company you’re looking to be a part of you want to understand what their goals are. What’s their mission? What’s the management team like? How do they deal with day-to-day operations? Questions that could be asked are, how long have you been in business? What your background in the industry? How did you get started? One of the things you don’t want to ask is can I have free cannabis. I don’t think that’s something in an interview that you really want to put out there initially. Again, these are employers. They’re looking for the best possible people. So you want to challenge the employer. You want to ask them, I’m going to get into this business, and I want to know that I’m working for somebody that’s responsible. I’m very serious about it and I’m committed to put 110% in, but I want to know about you. I want to know about your background. I certainly want to understand why did you get into the industry. What is it about it that you saw that had you create this. And it’s important because cannabis is an industry and it’s a movement, and people that enter this industry are very passionate about it in a lot of cases, and they want to have the idea, the same as the companies they work for. And it’s like anything else, people do business with people they like. So sell yourself, be personable, but really be a person that if you were hiring you what would you want to see, and you would want to see reliability, consistency and a skill set that can deliver value to the company that’s actually looking at you.

Matthew: Great points. David in closing, how can listeners learn more about WeedHire?

David: Certainly visiting the website at www.weedhire.com. We’ve got a host of information on the site. We’ll continue to be building the site. It’s only been live for about 10 months now. We’re really excited about the growth of it. There’s news. There’s a lot of information about companies in the sector. A lot of information about the type of jobs that are there and really look at the job descriptions. Look at what skill sets companies are seeking in trying to grow their organizations. We also come out with a quarterly cannabis jobs report which will cite trends and statistics in the industry which we’re very excited about because it’s been featured in a lot of mainstream media now. And so use the site as a tool because it’s going to continue to grow along with the industry to help you find the best opportunity for yourself to grow your business or to enter the workforce.

Matthew: Great. Well David, thanks so much for being on CannaInsider today. We really appreciate it.

David: Thank you so much Matt. I love the show, and I’m a avid listener and I appreciate the time.

Matthew: If you enjoyed the show today, please consider leaving us a review on iTunes, Stitcher or whatever app you might be using to listen to the show. Every five star review helps us to bring the best guests to you. Learn more at www.cannainsider.com/itunes. What are the five major trends that will impact the cannabis industry in the next five years? Find out with your free report at www.cannainsider.com/trends.