Do you have experience in the cannabis industry? As legislation in various states continues to change, more and more people find job opportunities in this area. However, while there is plenty of advice concerning how to get a job in the marijuana industry, there is not a lot of information about how to transition out of the market.
How do you explain such experience when some people still consider it a taboo topic?
How do you explain such experience when some people still consider it a taboo topic? You may find it challenging to determine how to present this type of work to potential employers in a different field. Fortunately, we gathered helpful tips to show you how to describe your prior position as you write your cover letter
How To Position a Past Cannabis Industry Job in Your Cover Letter
- Know the Risk
"Do not throw your past job in your document haphazardly and hope for the best," cautions Laura Washburn, a former dispensary manager from Los Angeles. Despite the changes in many states' legislation, the use, sale, and distribution of marijuana remains illegal under federal law. Because of this, according to Washburn, some companies prefer to stay away from the industry — and its former employees.How can you know if it is appropriate to include your work with cannabis in your cover letter? "Do your homework," recommends Washburn. "Study the job to which you are applying. Research the company's culture, policies, and employees." You may choose to exclude this experience from your letter, but keep in mind that also excluding it from your resume poses a risk as well. "Hiring managers will ask about employment gaps," cautions Washburn.
- Be Professional
"It is impossible to predict how every hiring manager will react to your work in the cannabis industry," Washburn relates. "However, there are ways to help keep people from making negative assumptions about you." If you decide to discuss your work with marijuana, Washburn believes the first step to take is to use professional language throughout your cover letter.
If you decide to discuss your work with marijuana, Washburn believes the first step to take is to use professional language throughout your cover letter.
Use the word "cannabis" instead of terms such as "pot" or "weed." Watch your tone as well. "You should sound knowledgeable, polite, and confident in your letter," advises Washburn. "This helps you separate yourself from the negative 'stoner' stereotype that often accompanies someone associated with this market."
- Ensure that Your Cannabis Job is Not the Sole Focus of Your Letter
Do you have additional work experience in a different industry? Consider incorporating it into your letter in addition to your role in the cannabis industry. "You do not want to use this document to emphasize every job you ever had, as this makes it a replica of your resume," relays Washburn. "At the same time, you may jeopardize your candidacy if you make your employment in the marijuana market the solitary focus of your letter."If you have no other experience, do not worry. Stick to the previous step and portray your job as professionally as possible. If you did work in another field, however, mention it in your letter. "This provides hiring managers with a well-rounded picture of you and your qualifications," says Washburn.
- Think About Placement
Think twice before you write an introduction that immediately launches into the details of your work with cannabis. "It is risky to try to use marijuana as your 'hook' that reels readers in," counsels Washburn. "The first thing hiring managers should learn about you is your top few qualifications, not the sole fact that you worked in the cannabis industry."
"It is risky to try to use marijuana as your 'hook' that reels readers in," counsels Washburn. "The first thing hiring managers should learn about you is your top few qualifications … "
She suggests using your introductory paragraphs to display key skills, special achievements, or other types of work experience. Then, lower in your letter, discuss your work with marijuana. "The worst-case scenario is that hiring managers react negatively to this type of work," she says. "However, if they already have enough interest in you from your first few paragraphs, they may still consider you for the job."
- Use Its Uniqueness to Your Advantage
"No matter where you position this type of experience in your cover letter, chances are it will grab the attention of readers," states Washburn. "Instead of wasting time wondering if that attention will be negative, see this as an opportunity to make yourself stand out even more."Once you present this unique experience, immediately demonstrate interesting qualifications or personality traits to make a strong case for your candidacy. Think about how the cannabis industry should continue to see great growth in the future. "Use this fact to express your ambition," Washburn urges. "Communicate your ability to take smart, calculated risks. Show your knack for finding opportunities for growth and success."
- Find the Connection Between Professions
"How does your former occupation relate to the job to which you are applying?" Washburn asks. Finding the connection helps communicate your relevant experience and why you want the position in question. When she pursued her current role as a restaurant manager, Washburn emphasized in her cover letter her prior administrative and customer service duties as a dispensary manager to show she could handle the new position's responsibilities.
"Try to find a relationship between prior daily tasks and the possible assignments you will have in this new role," recommends Washburn.
Is there a correlation between your previous obligations in the cannabis industry and the duties of the job you want? If not, think of smaller similarities. Perhaps you needed to work quickly or solve complex problems in your former position. "Try to find a relationship between prior daily tasks and the possible assignments you will have in this new role," recommends Washburn.
- Focus on You, Not the Job
"After you connect your previous experience to the job at hand, connect yourself to it," directs Washburn. Hiring managers do want to see relevant experience, she notes. However, just as important, they want to see the specific skills and abilities you have to offer. Do not give too much information about the ins and outs of the former position itself. "Focus on the proficiencies it allowed you to develop. Write about your impressive, relevant accomplishments in the field," Washburn encourages. "Show that the cannabis industry helped you gain valuable talents and knowledge that are important to your professional goals and the new field you are pursuing."
Want Some Extra Help Writing That Cover Letter?
If you follow these guidelines and use one of the many attractive cover letter templates we have to offer, you can present your previous position with marijuana in a professional manner. Take a look at our personalized cover letter builder for even more help. This tool is easy to use and can help you write a memorable document that brings you one step closer to getting the job you want.