Can working for a cannabis company hurt my future career?

advice opinion Mar 04, 2021

When I was a recruiting manager at one of the largest well-known staffing companies, I spoke with many candidates about many different opportunities. As this was in Las Vegas where cannabis was recently made legal, the question came up as to whether working for a cannabis company was the right move.

I remember one candidate in particular who was quite concerned for no other reason than he was concerned as to how would that company look on his resume. My first question or rather a red flag is if you are already looking for your next company before you have even started with this one, then maybe it isn’t the right move for you.

Another candidate who had his CPA certification was better in his reason to question the move. He didn’t want his CPA license to be impacted by working in an industry that was illegal on the federal level. He wasn’t concerned or wasn’t looking for his next role; he was making an informed decision about this role and whether any impact would arise for him and the commitment he had made when he obtained his CPA license. Each candidate had very different perspectives which resulted in very different responses from me as their advisor.

The first person was not really a candidate that I wanted to assist as candidates who are already looking past the current opportunity are not always the best candidate to represent as when you are an external recruiter it is your reputation on the line when you make those recommendations. You really don’t want to place candidates who are always looking for greener pastures.

So will it hurt or hinder?

That has to be up to each individual candidate. I know that I ended up placing a fantastic candidate at a cannabis company and she has been there for over 3 years (since November 2015). She saw the opportunity and it was a fit for her, she came from a major accounting firm and moved from a large corporate environment to a start-up. She started as a controller and less than a year after starting she was promoted to company VP and Chief Financial Officer. So it doesn’t look like it has hurt her career at all.

Photo by Terre di Cannabis on Unsplash