The War on Talent
By Maurizio Calconi, Vice-President,Talent Acquisition
As the legalization of cannabis looms near, companies are rushing to build out their business. To put it bluntly: This means hiring. Unfortunately, most leaders do not realize the herculean effort it takes to hire, and by the time you do, well…
It is called ‘Talent Acquisition’ for a reason. The adage, “If you build it, they will come” does not necessarily stand true: You need to create a purpose for people to join your organization, and that takes commitment and work. And from my experience the hardest question most companies and leaders fail to answer is, “Why is our company worth joining?”
There is a “war on talent” right now in the cannabis sector, especially in Canada, meaning that employers are offering fiercely competitive packages to attract the top talent. What makes cannabis so unique, is it’s a newly regulated industry; this means finding people experienced in cannabis is rare. Licensed producers are recruiting from other producers. Candidates often have multiple job offers. In more established industries such as consumer packaged goods (CPG), there is a large pool of talent to choose from. Within the cannabis industry, however, finding (and attracting) the right talent requires a much more thoughtful approach.
If you want to land the ‘best of the best’ for your organization, here are some key tips:
Attraction. Do you have a plan installed to attract key personnel? Or is just another copy and paste post your JD on Indeed or LinkedIn, hoping that candidates find your job and your company in the crowded market? Do you have a go-to-market strategy? Just because you have an open door doesn’t mean the right people will mosey on in.
Create your USP (Unique Selling Proposition) – Sit down with your team and ask them “Why Us?” Be open and honest and DON’T exaggerate! If you host weekly town halls where everyone can get involved in corporate decisions, tell the world.
Hiring Committee. You need to be willing to look beyond just yourself as a solo hiring manager. A hiring committee can be a great start. If you’re hiring leadership positions, a committee that knows your company values can go a long way in finding the right candidate. A committee allows and promotes thoughtful discussions on what is important to the business and not just the individual doing the hiring. Furthermore, a committee identifies key stakeholder initiatives that can sometimes be missed by individuals. Do ensure you appoint a committee Chair, so that if there is a deadlock, the Chair can push for an answer.
Write an Incredible Opportunity Profile. A well-crafted opportunity profile speaks to your desire to look for the best people in the market. When I first got into search 13 years ago, my old mentor told me that a well written Opportunity Profile (rather than a Job Description) is an important tool that tells a story. This is your chance to sell your “why us!” vision. You do not need to write the next great Canadian novel, but you do need to ensure your what you are telling the market is both accurate and attractive.
Career Dialogue. Throughout my career as a recruiter, whenever I interview a candidate, especially someone who is working at managing their career, the ‘A’ players all ask a similar question: “If I sign with this company, what’s next?” The vast majority of the clients I worked with all struggled with their answer. Some avoided it, while others gave wishy-washy answers like “in 7 years you might be promoted to a Director role…we’ll kinda, maybe.”
If you want to attract ‘A’ players, you need to be willing to have career dialogue with every candidate you meet. You want prospective employees to see the upward potential your company has to offer. If you aren’t willing to have a conversation like that with a potential new employee, why should they join your company?
Compensation. The previous points can help set you apart from competitors, but at the end of the day it always comes down to compensation, right? Working for a prestigious company and getting a lavish job title can certainly woo a few prospects, but what pays the bills will be what makes or breaks a successful search.
Keep your business up to date with salary and market changes, and be prepared to fight to hire amazing candidates. If you want to hire a S.M.E. (Subject Matter Expert) with 7-10 years of experience but only want to hire them at a lateral salary, perhaps its not the market that is wrong but you…as my father once said “…if you can’t afford a new house with all the hand-crafted trim, then just update and fix your current home.”
Use of an Agency. A more dubious question is whether to use an agency to help or not. My advice: If you work with professionals, you’ll get professional results. Your business relies on people to make it work, so you can’t skimp out on the core of your company just because you don’t want to spend a little money.
If you are not prepared to alter your talent acquisition strategy, you will always end up losing the battle for talent.
Cannabis Compliance Inc is the only executive search agency globally that has its own SME’s to assist in screening prospective hires for its clients. The fact that we have dozens of senior quality assurance staff, many with producer experience, is unparalleled from a recruitment standpoint. CCI is an independent, privately owned firm with no affiliations with producers, and has experienced tremendous growth in its recruiting division. Contact us today to start a dialogue on how CCI can recruit the top talent for your cannabis business.
Maurizio is the Vice President of Talent Acquisition at Cannabis Compliance Inc. He has been in Executive Search for 13 years and has helped companies with single, one off hires and he has also helped build out full divisions. He is an advocate for hiring to be done right and to treat candidates as people and not commodities.