43 | Liesl Bernard, founder, Cannabiz Team

“Every cannabis company still needs an accountant. They need a marketing person. They need salespeople. They need social media people. So, you know, you can pretty much transition from any other industry into the cannabis space.”

— Liesl Bernard

The green rush is on: New and established cannabis companies have jobs in everything from growing and processing, to legal and compliance, retail, management, packaging, marketing and other specialities. How do you position yourself to get hired for a cannabis job? Where are the best places to build a career in cannabis? Liesl Bernard started a cannabis recruiting firm; in this episode she shares the secrets of how to get hired in this fast-growing new industry.

Check out the CannabizTeam site, or follow them on Twitter or LinkedIn.

Kannaboomers (00:00): Hey, it's Tom. Welcome back to the Kannaboomers Podcast featuring Liesl Bernard, CEO of Cannabiz Team. They're a recruiting agency here in San Diego that specializes in the cannabis industry. Looking back at my analytics, I realized episode 36 with Andrew Ward, author of Cannabis Jobs, has done really well. So I think there's a lot of interest out there in this booming industry, and who knows, when this pandemic ends, maybe cannabis is the sector of the industry that saves us. So have a listen. I hope you enjoy the episode. Look us up at Apple podcasts, Google, Stitcher, wherever you listen and leave a review for us if you'd like to. We would really appreciate that as we extend our reach and grow our audience. Enjoy the episode and be well. This is, let's talk about weed, the Kannaboomers podcast: CBD microdosing, and all things related to medical cannabis for baby boomers from San Diego. Here's your host, Thomas J.

Kannaboomers (00:56): Welcome back to Kannaboomers. This is Tom. I'm here with Liesel Bernard, CEO of Cannabiz Team. How are you Lisa?

Leisl Bernard (01:02): I'm really well thanks. How are you this morning?

Kannaboomers (01:04): Very good, thanks. So I wanted to get you on because you guys are in the recruiting and talent space and you know, the world has changed a lot in the last month or two. But I know a lot of our audience is really interested in the cannabis industry and working in it. And that's what you guys do, right?

Leisl Bernard (01:20): That's correct. Yeah. We I run a staffing firm that focuses exclusively in the cannabis industry. We have three lines of business one of the lines of business focus on executive placement in the cannabis industry. So those are all positions VP all the way to CEO, COO type of positions that, you know, that touch the industry. We have direct hire that places candidates and old positions in the industry on a direct hire basis. And then we also have a temp division that places talent on demand or on projects within the cannabis industry across the us and Canada.

Kannaboomers (02:00): So obviously it's a growing industry. And again, the whole world has been turned upside down in the last month. But what can you tell us about what the industry looks like today?

Leisl Bernard (02:09): Well, the exciting part of it is that I think, you know, during this downturn and the covid crisis, the cannabis industry has actually excelled and because it was deemed essential, a lot of our clients are still hiring and manufacturing products and you know, selling products in, in the retail space. So I think it's actually an opportunity to more normalize the cannabis industry and to, you know, raise the attention to the huge opportunity and boom that that is created.

Kannaboomers (02:40): Are your clients still coming to you and saying we're hiring?

Leisl Bernard (02:44): Definitely. we have seen a huge increase in our tech business. We're placing a lot of temps with, with companies that are overwhelmed with the retail demand. You know, I think when we went into covid crisis, a lot of our clients you know, have to stock up because the dispensaries were just overwhelmed with people that were looking for products. You know, a delivery has increased. So a lot of temp business, but we're also still placing people on a, on a fulltime basis. So that's, that's been somewhat surprising. But you know, the cannabis industry hasn't stopped and, and there's still a lot of opportunities even, you know, within this downturn,

Kannaboomers (03:25): That was an astounding piece of the puzzle when the industry was designated as essential -- 18 months ago. We weren't even legal in a lot of states.

Leisl Bernard (03:34): Yeah. It's it's actually really exciting and I think this is an interesting development because it's not federally legal and yet it's, it's deemed essential in most states. So it's a, it's an exciting opportunity to see you know, nationally that cannabis cannabis was deemed essential. And you know, a lot of people probably have an opportunity and even during this downturn to try cannabis in different formats and you know, it's it's, it's normalizing the industry even more than prior to covid hitting.

Kannaboomers (04:09): So I guess the new normal is cannabis has found its place and hiring continues and as you said, more people are trying it. So in a lot of ways it's been a good development for companies in cannabis.

Leisl Bernard (04:22): Definitely. Yeah, I totally agree. And you know, it's it's an exciting time for cannabis and I think we're moving closer and closer to legalization and this is definitely helping,

Kannaboomers (04:33): You know, you mentioned the retail channel right now, but you know, when you look at other rushes in the past and the gold rush, the truism was, well, if you sell picks and shovels you can't lose. Is there a sector of this industry that's akin to picks and shovels that is always going to be growing?

Leisl Bernard (04:48): You know, I, I think if you look at the cannabis industry as a whole and you know where the product starts, its talks with you know, a seed going into the ground and having to grow this beautiful plant and then to either, you know, take the flower extract oil you know, or do, you know, do, do various different forms of you know manipulating the flower into different products all the way to testing, to manufacturing, to distributing until it hits a retail shelf in some shape or form. There's so many different you know, aspects to, to creating products in the market and, and around that there's a lot of picks and shovels that, that, you know, support the industry as well. So the opportunities are really endless in the industry. And the opportunity, the job opportunities that are created all the way from cultivation to when it hits a retail shelf are, are vast as well. So it's definitely a an industry with tons of opportunities both within the industry and supporting the industry from a picks and shovels perspective.

Kannaboomers (05:57): There's packaging and marketing and compliance and just all sorts of fields where people could come and bring their talents to this. Now do you have a national footprint? Where are your clients from?

New Speaker (06:09): We place a talent across the U.S and also throughout Canada and also have done some placements in Europe over the last year. So our clients are you know, all across the, all across the world. Most of our placements are in the U.S. And Canada, but you know, definitely a lot of our clients and trying to expand internationally, looking for talent. In other places too.

Kannaboomers (06:33): Colorado was ahead of the country for a long time. There's always been a lot of cultivation in California, but I know Kentucky is growing a lot of hemp. Are there regions of the country where it's a hotter market than other regions?

Leisl Bernard (06:45): Obviously the states that are legal from both a medical and a recreational perspective probably have the most activity as far as job opportunity opportunities are concerned. But a lot of the states that are not legal yet are manufacturing hemp and CBD products. So you know, there's definitely, you know, opportunities in, in most places in the U.S. But the legal markets are obviously more active than the ones that are not.

Kannaboomers (07:15): For our listeners that are interested in getting into this industry. What advice do you have?

Leisl Bernard (07:19): You know, I think if you're really passionate about the industry and you're driven to find an opportunity in the cannabis industry, you'll find a way there. There are so many job opportunities all the way from people that just want to, you know, be brand ambassadors for product all the way to, you know, executives that are looking for C-suite opportunities. So, and, and every cannabis company still needs an accountant. They need a marketing person. They need salespeople. They need, you know, social media people. So you know, you can pretty much transitioned from any other industry into the, into the cannabis space. If you're, if you're, you know, have enough tenacity, the you know, what we're finding is that, you know, our, our clients are looking more for people with the right culture fit to work in the industry. So if you're entrepreneurial, you'll have a personality that you know, likes to wear many hats and that you can function in a, in a startup environment. This is definitely going to be a fun industry for you to work in because most companies in the, in the industry are only a few years old. So a lot of them still have to you know, function as a startup and need people that can adapt quickly. And with all the compliance and regulations that are thrown at the industry, you know, there's, there's a lot of change that happened, you know, within the industry and people with the right attitude will definitely succeed.

Kannaboomers (08:43): What can you tell me about salaries when there's a lot of people who want to be in the industry? Maybe that has a depressing effect on the salaries?

Leisl Bernard (08:53): No, not really. You know, I think the, the market for candidate, the job opportunities in cannabis are very comparable from a salary perspective to other industries. And people that have experienced in the industry are highly valued. So a lot of our clients are looking for people that have had exposure to the industry and are willing to pay top dollar for, for those candidates. So my advice to anyone that's looking to get into the industry is do it sooner than later because one year of cannabis experience is probably worth five years in another industry. Just because there's so few people that actually have industry specific experience at this point. So if you can get an entry into the industry today a year or two from now, you're going to be one of the few people that can put on their resume that I've actually worked in industry and to have succeeded versus someone that's trying to jump in at that point. You know, once this industry goes legal you know, everyone's going to want to have an opportunity to work in the industry. And I think there's been a lot, maybe a lot more competition to get in. So if you can get into the industry prior to prior to it being federally illegal, and I think you're going to be way ahead of the game. And, and you know be a sought after candidate for another opportunity down the road. From someone that doesn't have that experience.

Kannaboomers (10:15): You mentioned culture and sort of the startup environment. Do you notice any tension between sort of the old school people who were growing cannabis and might've been in more of a relaxed environment? Cause you know, startups a lot of time come with workaholism. I mean, you can have to work really hard at a startup. Do you see any, any tension there?

Leisl Bernard (10:35): Yeah, I agree with you. The you know, but that's long gone. You know, cannabis is now a legitimate industry. And there are clients are looking for people with a very strong work ethic that are excited about working in the industry and that are willing to contribute and are willing to wear many hats. The days of it being sort of a lackadasical work environment. And I'm very relaxed. This is long gone. You know, I think there's fierce competition among brands in the industry. Everybody is as vying for shelf space. And, you know, coming up with the most innovative product products and having deliveries done on time to, you know, whatever clients they promise to deliver, deliver to. So the, you know, there's, there's fierce competition and with that, you know businesses are becoming more and more competitive and looking for candidates that can, you know, keep up with the pace and the demand and, and still be innovative at the same time.

Kannaboomers (11:38): Right. So you gotta bring your A game. Is LinkedIn a good place to look?

Leisl Bernard (11:43): Yes, actually we have found that LinkedIn is becoming more and more of a cannabis business platform. We do a lot of our recruiting on LinkedIn. A lot of our, our clients are active on LinkedIn. So if if you're interested in getting involved in the cannabis industry, LinkedIn is a great place to to look and to add your interest, you know, onto your profile. We do a lot of advertising on LinkedIn and, and marketing and, you know, getting a lot of results from using that platform.

Kannaboomers (12:14): You know, we're not far removed from an era when everybody was in the closet in terms of cannabis use or any affiliation with it. So for people who may be in a job where they're worried about that, are there tactics they can use to go and explore those jobs? Or is it better to just put it out there and beyond LinkedIn and say, 'yeah, I'm interested in cannabis?'

Leisl Bernard (12:36): No, I think especially right now where we have such a high unemployment rate, you know, I think candidates need to be super proactive. If they're interested in getting a job I would reach out to companies directly. I would reach out to recruiting companies like ourselves, look at job boards adapt your resume to the job that you're applying for, and really highlight the skills that are relevant for every opportunity. You know, specifically I think the days of having one resume for all jobs is gone. You know, you've got to be on your a game when you're looking for a job and make sure that you're, you're highlighting the right skills and experience specific to the job that you're applying for. And you know, a company like ours can help you with that. If you need help, you know, adapting your resume for the right opportunity. That's part of the service that we offer to candidates is, is help them to put themselves in the best light when they, when they apply for a job.

Kannaboomers (13:36): Do you represent job seekers as well as clients who have positions they want to fill?

Leisl Bernard (13:40): We we work with both sides. So our clients come to us looking for specific talent for their companies. And then we help candidates match up with the opportunities that, that we work on. So we help both sides. But our clients are the ones that come to us with the specific skills and skill needs and experience for candidates. But we'll definitely, we have, we post all of the jobs that we work on, on our website and we post it on different, other different platforms and candidates can apply to these jobs and be considered for them. And we would definitely assist all candidates. And, you know, being a place in the right opportunities.

Kannaboomers (14:24): Do you have any anything that comes to mind for candidates who did something really out of the box and creative that got themselves noticed?

Leisl Bernard (14:33): You know, I think it's just candidate's, tenacity. You know, a lot of times people understand that they have to do a lot of work in making sure their, their resumes are up to date and presentable. And, you know, just being proactive, sometimes you've got to reach out to either recruiters or clients a few times to, you know, display your excitement and your desire to work in the industry. When there's a lot of candidates on the market looking for the same job, you know, you've, you can't expect to sit back and wait for opportunities to come to you. You've gotta be proactive. And, and have faith in your abilities and skill sets and you know, reach out to number of people in order to be considered for, you know the opportunities that are open.

Kannaboomers (15:21): You have to do a lot of networking. I'm sure you, you've got your finger on the pulse of the industry too, to know exactly where the jobs are.

Leisl Bernard (15:29): Yes. You know, we we have experts across the country now that, that recruit for us. We have offices in Southern California, in Chicago and also Miami. And so we definitely, you know, work with clients all across the U.S. And on Canada and you know, our opportunities are all the way from cultivation to testing cannabis to manufacturing, distribution, retail, and then C suite. So we have an array of opportunities open and they change almost on a daily basis. So if anyone is interested in opportunities they should go to our website, you know, we list all the opportunities real time there. And also you know, advertise those opportunities on various platforms like LinkedIn.

Kannaboomers (16:17): Lisa, is there anything that we haven't covered that we should?

Leisl Bernard (16:19): You know, no, I think it's just I want to stress what an exciting time this is for the industry. You know, in that there are so many opportunities to you know, get into the industry from an employment perspective. Whether you're just want to test it out and work on a temporary basis or on a project within the industry or whether you want to make a full career switch into the industry. I definitely would encourage anyone that is passionate about the plant as passionate about alternative health and you know, being in an exciting industry to check out, you know, opportunities and to reach out to us if we can help in any way.

Kannaboomers (16:58): Very good. I think, you know, as we talked about a little bit at the beginning with the whole pandemic, the cannabis industry looks really good. There's demand has gone up. That growth curve is just going to continue.

Leisl Bernard (17:08): Absolutely. Yeah. And you know, if you think about it, there's only, you know, a few states that are legal both from a medicinal and recreational perspective. So the, the growth curve and in, in the industry has not even, you know, started to hit the top yet. So if you think about where we are today and where the industry will be in, in five years from now I think the opportunities are just endless and we're just at the beginning of it, which is super exciting.

Kannaboomers (17:36): Well, thank you for taking the time to tell our audience about this. And where can we find you online?

Leisl Bernard (17:42): Our website is cannabizteam.com and that's cannabis with a Z dot com. Our jobs are all listed on that or find us on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Instagram and let us know how we can help anyone.

Kannaboomers (17:57): Awesome. Thanks so much Lisa. I really appreciate it. Thanks for your,

Kannaboomers (18:02): You've been listening to, let's talk about wheat, the Kannaboomers podcast with Thomas J for more on medicinal cannabis for baby boomers. Visit us at Kannaboomers dot com.