CanMar Recruitment is dedicated to serving the Canadian cannabis industry; one qualified employee at a time. CanMar specializes in providing high-quality recruitment and business solutions to all firms across the cannabis space, while working closely with the top employee prospects in the industry. A growing industry needs qualified employees. Let us help.

After legalizing recreational cannabis last fall, and with “Legalization 2.0” coming later this year, Canada’s cannabis industry is booming with ample job openings available for those looking to join this lucrative business. But, like any other industry, companies are struggling to hire the skilled help they need.

In an industry that moves lightning fast, it’s essential that cannabis companies aren’t wasting time and money when it comes to making the right hire.

Matching hires with company culture

“It’s all about headhunting and matching the right people with the right job, because a company can lose a lot of money with the wrong hire,” says KD Khairah, founder of CanMar Recruitment, a recruitment agency specializing solely in filling positions within the cannabis industry. “We make sure that right from the get-go we find them the best people.”

With more than 15 years experience in the recruitment field, Khairah says the first step in ensuring the right hire is to have a thorough understanding of a company and its culture. He says that any company can give you a job description, but it’s crucial to determine personality fit as well.

“A person might have the best skills, but what if they’re not a team player? What if they have attitude issues? What if they just don’t get along well with the way a company operates? Personality is as important as the skill set.”

Tim Lum, business development partner at CanMar, agrees it’s more than just matching a resume to a job description when making a hire.

“The most important factor about the ‘right fit’ is to fully understand our partnered companies’ scope of work and life in their operations,” he says. “Apart from technical qualifications, we must fully grasp what they are seeking in work dynamics, softer skills, and corporate culture.”

Recruiters bring specialized expertise

Research from Glassdoor found each corporate job opening on their site attracts around 250 resumes. Bringing in a recruitment agency cuts out the time and hassle of sifting through CVs to quickly identify top candidates.

“Our recruiters all specialize in their own area of expertise,” says Khairah. “There’s a recruiter who specializes in all quality assurance type of positions, and another one is just purely accounting and finance, another one is just cultivation, another one is just senior management. This really allows them to champion people for roles.”

Lum says he never imagined the cannabis industry would pick up the way it has.

“Of course there will be kinks and hiccups along the way for Canada and other countries, but nothing that is great came easily.” he says. “I see that as the same way for myself and our team. The harder we work to hone our craft, the more we can help good people do great things.”

If a recruiter has a deep knowledge of who exactly is in their talent pool with a specific skill set, like the CanMar team does, it allows for rapid filling of vacancies at all levels.

When a licensed producer (LP) couldn’t find a legal in-house counsel, Khairah and his team found someone in a specific city within six hours.

“They had engaged another non-cannabis recruiting firm, an executive search firm, that was charging three times more than us,” says Khairah. “They couldn’t find anybody for two weeks.”

Frustrated, the owner contacted Khairah for help.

“We did it over the weekend. We closed the offer, and on Monday the person started.”

Large rosters cut down on hiring times

Research from Glassdoor in 2017 found it takes about a month on average for a company to make a new hire. Factor in multiple rounds of interviews and back and forths on offers, and an internal HR team could easily spend six weeks or longer trying to find the right hire. That’s a lot of valuable hours that could be better spent working on the countless other important tasks HR is needed for.

A company like CanMar has the bandwidth, the resources, and the experience to cut the job search, vetting, and interview process down to about a week.

Earlier this year, a late stage LP applicant came to CanMar looking to fill a quality assurance position, after searching for more than six months. Within an hour there were two resumes on the hiring committee’s desk. The LP wanted one more candidate in the mix, which CanMar was able to provide over the next hour. The following day, the company had filled the vacancy.

These sort of rapid results aren’t surprising, given that for every three people the company has in its talent pool, one is hired when put up for a role. With more than 5,000 candidates in their database, and another 100-200 new people being added every week, CanMar is constantly replenishing its roster.

“We’ve got about three to five people who are proactively reaching out to passive candidates in the market,” says Khairah. “So we are continually replenishing and increasing the number of people on our database. Rather than being reactive, we are very proactive.”

Khairah says when an inquiry comes in, he can instantly search this database and find a handful of candidates to suit any position.

An important role that recruiters at a specialized cannabis recruitment agency provide is pre-screening applicants to ensure they’re open to working in the cannabis industry. While recreational cannabis has been legal in Canada since October 2018, there’s still some stigma attached to working in the industry. Additionally, the travel requirements and frequent volatility aren’t for everyone, but the salaries, stock options, growth opportunity, and career advancement are certainly attractive for the right personality.

Khairah and his team make sure to spend time educating candidates about the cannabis industry, and make sure they’re open to joining this booming sector, before even placing them in front of a hiring committee.

“The biggest challenge is educating people, because there’s still a taboo around the industry,” says Khairah. “A lot of good people do say no, that they don’t want to get associated with the industry, so that’s where I see a challenge. So we educate people, and we show them the path to their next opportunity.”

Avoid these recruiting mistakes

Lum says there are many mistakes a company can make for recruiting, whether it be internally or externally.

“A wise man once told me, ‘There are many slips between a lip and a cup’ and it is very true for recruitment as well,” he says. “From a recruiter’s point of view it is vital from the beginning to fully understand the job and company requirements through discovery meeting, manage candidate expectations over budget, read in-depth into the personality matches for the team candidates will work with, constantly engage with candidate and company to keep them in the loop, and of course, dig deep into the motivations of a candidate for their career.”

Finding the right hire is not about posting job ads on Indeed or Craigslist. It’s about relationships, and this is where a company like CanMar shines. They’ve made more than 100 successful placements in about a year’s time.

“We recruit day in and day out. We understand what is required. We’re specialists.”

Khairah says companies should concentrate on doing their business, not recruiting.

“Just because I change a lightbulb, doesn’t make me an electrician. I might save a bit of money, but what if the bulb breaks? What if I do something wrong? Let the experts do what they are supposed to do.”

‘People don’t grow on trees’

Once a company has access to a quality talent pool, Khairah says it’s important they have the right systems in place so they don’t lose out of a top prospect. It also helps to attract new talent, when they know a company takes hiring seriously. Strong unemployment rates across the country mean qualified candidates aren’t sticking around long.

“If you’re looking to hire someone, somebody else is looking as well,” says Khairah. “People don’t grow on trees. If there is a good candidate, that person will not be available for long. People just don’t wait.”

At the end of the day, bringing in an outside recruitment agency is about being able to cut down on the time and expense of searching for, and onboarding a new hire.

“We want to do it quickly, because an empty seat is a company losing money. Businesses should be concentrating on running a business, making money. Let us find you the people,” says Khairah.

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