5 Tips For Hiring in the Hemp Industry

Departments - Smart Start: Quick Tips

Well-written job descriptions and patience are critical to landing the right employees.

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January 26, 2022

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Though only a few years old, the revived U.S. hemp industry has already experienced a roller coaster of boom-bust cycles. The often-abrupt evolution of the hemp industry has seen the demise of many companies, but it has also forged resilient organizations that have been able to survive the ups and downs. Those successful in today’s hemp industry generally have one thing in common: talented people.

Now, with the backdrop of the “Great Resignation”—an ongoing U.S. phenomenon that started in 2021 in which a record number of people are leaving their jobs—the hemp industry faces new challenges with employee retention and recruitment. After five years in the business, I’ve compiled a few tips based on my experience with building (and rebuilding) a team that can hopefully help you when you’re ready to hire.

1. Consider the commitment.

Attracting, retaining, and nurturing an engaged and skilled workforce may be the difference between building a long-lasting company versus one that quickly crashes. This is a near-universal truth for the hemp industry, a space dominated by new ventures. If you’re considering growing your team, start by asking yourself a few qualifying questions: Am I ready to commit to a permanent position, or can I use a temporary staffing service before hiring someone long-term? Does this position warrant a full-time role? Can an independent contractor do this role, or does it legally require a W2 employee?

Failing to carefully consider these questions before searching for a candidate can prove costly and disruptive. Make sure you’re ready to commit to the structure you choose, particularly if you choose to hire for a permanent internal role.

2. Refine the job description.

I’ve witnessed a lot of issues when job descriptions are poorly written. My organization, East Fork Cultivars, has had to recast job listings multiple times—a waste of staff time and job listing fees—because we failed to capture the role we were trying to hire for in our job description, which led to a mismatch with candidates during the interview process.

A good job description should use clear language and avoid vague, all-encompassing statements intended to capture everything the person might be asked to do. If flexibility is important for the role, for example, state that clearly. For additional clarity, consider writing the job responsibilities in ranked priority so it’s clear which parts of the role are the most essential.

Lastly, be transparent about compensation, including explicit financial benefits, like salary and health insurance, as well as intrinsic benefits, like remote work, free or discounted products, or flexible scheduling. Including compensation details up front will help avoid wasting time sifting through applicants who aren’t willing to accept your compensation package.

3. Recruit in the right place.

Candidates looking for temporary harvest work are likely using different job boards than those looking for full-time marketing roles. Find where similar job listings are posted and consider using a professional recruiting service if the role is vital for the business.

4. Focus on fit, and be patient.

While skills and experience are essential, candidates can often hone them once in the role. If a candidate doesn’t have all the skills you’re looking for but seems like they will be an excellent cultural fit, try giving them a chance. A bad cultural fit is much harder to change.

It can feel exciting to hire someone for a new role quickly, but it’s important to remember that adding people to your team is one of the most consequential decisions you’ll make as a business leader. Consider forming a hiring committee to allow more perspectives into the process. This can include a business owner, a manager, and someone who will be a peer to the new hire. If you don’t find any candidates that you’re confident will match your culture in your first attempt, be ready to go back to the beginning of the process.

5. Spend time onboarding.

A candidate accepting a job offer can often feel like the end of the hiring process, but your work isn’t done! Investing in onboarding new team members is essential. Consider leaning on your team to help with this process.

At East Fork, we set new hires up with a calendar full of one-on-one meetings with different people in our organization. This gamut covers basic administrative and HR onboarding as well as “cultural” onboarding—a way for new people to quickly get a sense of our organization’s history, structure, and workplace standards before focusing on the tasks of their role. This process leads to better engagement and alignment, and it helps new hires feel like part of the team.

Mason Walker is co-owner and CEO of East Fork Cultivars, an Oregon-based craft cannabis company.