On January 19, over 1,000 people attended the Vangst Cannabis Career Fair, where they got some face time with some of the largest cannabis companies in Colorado. Vangst, a job-placement company, aims to make it easier for new-to-cannabis job seekers to explore opportunities, and this third fair provided more opportunities than ever to look at the legal cannabis industry, At the same time, vendors got a chance to size up the candidates.
Big-name brands such as Native Roots and Leafly lined the walls of the fair. Native Roots is one of the major employers of Colorado's cannabis space, with close to 700 employees. Now it's trying to fill corporate positions in its marketing and IT departments. "We are looking for talented individuals to work sales in two future stores," said one Native Roots rep. "I've also seen some good corporate candidates here, too."
It's a sign of the times.
"People have more respect for the industry with the new states going legal," said April Emma, event specialist for Leafly. "Most of the people here are presenting themselves very professionally, though there have been some stoner-looking people who were clearly high. That's expected, but overall we are trying to get away from that stereotype."
Most of the attendees came early and in business wear. It was a positive evolution, vendors agreed, from the days when most cannabis job-seekers in Denver looked the part of the stereotypical stoner.
Karson Humiston is the founder and CEO of Vangst Talent. Her passion is matching quality job-seekers with the perfect position, she says, and the feedback she received at the fair was positive. "We are hearing that people feel like they either got the job they were after, or at least walked away with an interview locked in already," she says.
Humiston's number-one tip for canna-job seekers: "Follow up, follow up, follow up."
Think about it, she explains: These vendors have spoken to hundreds of applicants, so when a candidate reaches out to them soon after the career fair, that candidate really stands out. All it takes is one e-mail, she says.
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For vendors, her advice is to make a spreadsheet of the most impressive candidates.
"When I go to career fairs, I jot notes about the person on their résumé so the résumé will stand out to me when I comb through them all later," she says. Humiston also warns companies not to take their time getting back to applicants, as they could easily get snatched up by a competitor.
Vangst's first cannabis career fair in Denver brought together about a dozen vendors. The second brought close to forty. This latest event had nearly fifty different vendors.
"Every vendor said they found someone they want to hire," Humiston reports. "And if you don't get a call back from the career fair, we may call you for a future position we are tasked to fill."