How to Get a Job in the European Cannabis Industry
February 15, 2023 Written by Bjoern A Mannsfeld
The cannabis industry in Europe has been growing in nearly every country with CBD, industrial hemp and high THC cannabis being grown, manufactured, processed and/or consumed in practically every country. And with this increasing economic activity comes new jobs!
So are you looking at joining what is expected to be the fastest-growing new economic sector in European history? Well read on to get some info on how to join the cannabis industry. We use the word ‘cannabis’ and ‘cannabis industry’ to include the industrial hemp, CBD and high THC cannabis industries all together.
What should one consider when looking at the cannabis industry for a career?
Your own reasons, desires and skills
What type of job do you want?
Where do you want to be geographically?
What are the regulations/laws in the country you want to be in?
Look at your personal network
Research specific jobs
The first step in any job search is taking stock of yourself. You should try to understand what it is you are looking for and what makes or will make you happy in a job or career. This usually becomes easier the longer you are in the job market. We learn what we like and do not like through experience. And it is important to make note of those points in order to find the right fit at future jobs.
Do you want to work in an office or at home? Or a mix?
Do you like to work alone or in a team?
Do you want to travel for work? If so, how much of the time?
Do you value extra benefits like a coffee bar or beers at the workplace?
Do you value mentoring or other educational opportunities at work?
How far is acceptable for your commute?
These are the types of questions one should ask themself to learn what to look for in a new job or company. Of course the questions and answers will differ from person to person.
A Curriculum Vitae (CV) or resume is an absolute must for any job search. There are many templates and CV help sites available online. The most important parts of the CV may be your educational background and work background. When looking at these, think about how they apply to the career or job or company you are looking at. And how can you state your experience to fit your goals. You might need to write different resumes for different job applications to highlight different areas.
For example, if you worked as a bartender for several years, this may not sound like it applies to other careers. However, think about the parts of the job such as customer service, ordering supplies, creating new items (drinks), working as part of a team, managing other staff, etc. If you worked in a call center, you used skills such as communication, working under pressure, de-escalation techniques, customer service, sales techniques, teamwork, etc.
Research the types of jobs which would be interesting to you and which might fit your qualifications. Also, keep in mind, that there are many entry-level positions in the cannabis industry where you can then learn more about the industry. If you do start at entry-level, then you can learn first-hand about other positions and work your way up.
The cannabis industry has an extremely wide range of jobs, many of which do not involve direct contact with cannabis, and which range from entry-level to requiring high levels of education and/or experience. Some will be more customer-service related and others will be in an office setting. And of course there are remote positions also available. You can see more details in this article: Cannabis Industry Jobs (eucannajobs.com).
You will need to decide early on if you are available to move or only looking in the city or area where you currently live. Of course, being available to move opens up many more opportunities. If you decide you are looking in other locations also, then you will need to consider several other questions:
Language: If you are moving to another country, will language be a barrier? Sometimes the primary language of a country is not required for the position. Usually the job posting will state language requirements.
Country (or city) laws and regulations: Every country in Europe currently has different laws in place regarding medical and adult-use (recreational) cannabis. An online search should easily provide you the basic information about the country you may be interested in. You can assume that legal companies advertising jobs are allowed to be in the industry. But it is helpful to know which countries have which laws as the laws will affect the types of jobs and number of jobs available. For instance, a country that does not have legal cultivation is unlikely to have cultivation and processing jobs advertised online.
Learn about the companies in the country or area you are interested in. Alternatively, if you are open to working almost anywhere, research the companies and when you find a company with the culture and direction you like, see where they have open positions that fit your resume. Learning about the company includes learning what they do (cultivation, processing, media, distribution, etc.), where they are located and the culture. The company culture is how they work and is perhaps the most important part. This goes toward the questions we discussed earlier about how you want to work.
Researching the companies in the cannabis industry is not as easy as it might seem. Given how new the industry in Europe is, many companies are small and just getting started. In addition, there are restrictions against advertising cannabis online. This means that many of the companies in the industry, you may have not heard of before.
There are several ways to get more info, other than doing an online search for „cannabis companies in...“, which can also be a way to find companies though.
Linked In does not have restrictions on cannabis companies and you can find many different cannabis industry groups. Here you can learn about companies, learn about open positions and learn the latest news about the industry and companies. You can also follow companies directly and you can also ‚connect‘with people who work for the company to learn more about the company and their culture. These people can also become your allies if and when you apply.
Cannabis newsletters and blogs: There are many industry newsletters and blogs which have the latest news about the industry and also about companies.
Company newsletters/mailing lists: Some companies have mailing lists you can sign up for on their websites. Of course, you need to know about the company first though.
Conferences and expos: There are both online and in-person conferences and expos where you can talk directly with people who work at companies. This is a great way to get a feel for the type of culture the company has and ask direct questions about what it is like to work there.
Networking is important in any industry and job search. Linked In did a study which showed 85% of positions filled were through networking. But what is Networking? Per Investopedia, „Networking is the exchange of information and ideas among people with a common profession or special interest, usually in an informal social setting. Networking often begins with a single point of common ground.“
So how do you do it? Networking involves talking to people you know and reaching out to new people. Perhaps your sister-in-law or an old schoolmate knows someone who is in the cannabis industry. Start speaking to your relatives, friends and acquaintances about your new job search and see where connections can be made.
A few important points about networking:
It works best when you also offer something such as information or a willingness to help in some way.
Not every networking connection will, or should, lead to something immediate. Networking is about building up your relationships (your network) which will then over time lead to connections which pay off for you and for others.
Linked In is a great place to network online. It works best when you have a person in common or some interest in common that you can connect over. If a mutual contact can make an introduction, that works even better. You can follow different groups related to cannabis and also engage people in friendly discussions about articles and other posts. But make sure to keep it friendly and to avoid discussions/topics which may become heated. You want to be the cool-headed, rational person. Not the angry and loud person. Networking in person is also very effective, such as at conferences. This is of course limited by the timing of the conferences, the travel time and the money needed to attend.
Finding and applying to jobs: If you have been networking and following companies and industry newsletters, you should already be hearing about companies that are expanding and new developments in the industry (i.e. a country legalizing medical cannabis will lead to new jobs in that country). But the main way to find jobs will be with online searches on job platforms, such as cannabis industry specific EUCannaJobs or generic job platforms. These allow you to input search criteria such as country, city, position (i.e. cultivator, trimmer, sales, manager, IT, accountant, media, etc.) and others. This is usually the most effective since then you do not need to know which companies are out there. You can just search for all jobs in Berlin, for example, and then see what sounds interesting and fits your skill set. If there are particular companies you are interested in, you can search at EUCannaJobs for that company or you can also go to their website directly to look for job posts. This is of course a much slower process as you need to visit many websites, and must first know about the company.
For individuals with extensive experience and/or advanced degrees/education, they can also use head hunters who try to match the individual with jobs companies are trying to fill. These tend to be for management or other high-level positions.
The process is often different for different types of positions also. For an entry-level position or mid-experience-level position, it can be a simple interview process. But for higher-level positions, it becomes more involved and networking becomes more important.
Education and training: Many areas of the industry require advanced training, education or knowledge. If you have the time and desire, consider university degrees which would give you knowledge in the areas you are interested in. Trade schools can also provide specific knowledge and training that is needed in the industry. Keep in mind that the industry needs skilled trades such as mechanics, electricians, plumbers and others.
There are also many specific regulations, such as GACP and GMP, which are specific to the agricultural and the pharmaceutical industries, which is where the cannabis industry meets. Additional training, education or certifications in these types of specific regulations can also make you stand out above the crowd. Salespeople also need specific training and certifications since they are technically selling a pharmaceutical product in the current medical cannabis situation. As adult-use legalization occurs, regulations may change. But it is most likely that some type of training and certification will still be necessary for sales positions.
The process should be fun along the way. Getting to know the industry and meeting people (networking) is interesting and exciting. As your network and your knowledge grow, so does your chance of finding the right job with the right company in this rapidly growing industry.
And keep in mind that your first job in the industry does not have to be your final job. You can grow with the industry and move into other positions and completely different directions.
Sign up for the newsletter at EUCannaJobs to stay up to date on the latest European cannabis industry news and hot new companies and positions. You can also create a candidate profile with your resume which is searchable by companies who may be looking for someone with your skill set and profile.
Good luck and hope to see you in the online discussions and at the conferences!