Advice for Employers and Recruiters

How do job boards differ in southeast Asia?

Shelby Konkel AvatarShelby Konkel
February 9, 2023

Create, manage, and work with Job Boards and Recruitment Marketplaces.

Each week, Steven Rothberg, Founder and Chief Visionary Officer of College Recruiter, and Peter M. Zollman, Founder of the AIM Group, along with guests from the world’s leading job sites, analyze news about general, niche, and aggregator job board and recruitment marketplace sites.

This episode’s featured guest is Joelle Pang of FastCo, also known for her work in creating FastJobs Malaysia, and its new sister site, FastGig Malaysia. Additionally, she was named the 2019 Entrepreneur of the Year at the inaugural Women in IT Asia Awards.

Joelle has over 12 years of experience in technology start-ups in the e-commerce, recruitment, mobile, and on-demand space, which includes founding two startups, one of which she exited after leading it to become Singapore’s leading fashion e-commerce platform. Through FastCo Malaysia, she’s currently playing her part in connecting low-wage jobseekers to meaningful employment opportunities in both full-time employment and the gig economy through hiring innovation and leveraging opportunities in the endemic times.

Listen to the full episode here:

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Steven (00:09):

Welcome to the Inside Job Boards and Recruitment Marketplaces podcast. I’m Stephen Rothberg, the founder of College Recruiter Job search site at College Recruiter. We believe that every student in recent grad deserves a great career.

Peter (00:23):

And I’m Peter Zollman, founding Principal of the AIM Group, the leading global business intelligence service for marketplaces and classified advertising companies. We consult with recruitment marketplaces, companies and publish aim group, recruitment intelligence, and a free weekly digest. We also host the annual Global Rec Buzz Conference.

Steven (00:44):

This is the podcast for you to learn more about how to create, manage, and work with general niche and aggregator job boards and recruitment marketplaces. Hey, Peter, it is great to be with you. If it’s a today, it must be a podcast.

Peter (01:00):

You sound like a program reminder for one of the big morning shows in the United States. <Laugh> today, you know,

Steven (01:08):

Tomorrow on today,

Peter (01:10):

The only one of those people I can think of is the weatherman Al Roker. I can’t even think of the other people who do that show anymore, Matt Lauer. But he became a a lesson in HR and talent, reacquisition <laugh> <laugh>

Steven (01:27):

Per I think, I think it’s French persona, non grata

Peter (01:31):

Uhhuh. Absolutely. And of course, CBS b s had their own. So regardless, it’s good to talk to you. It is good to bring people from in, from all around the world. And, you know, this is a, this is a fun thing we are doing here. I hope the the audience finds it fun as well. There’s a li always a little bit of gentle ribbing and we hope a few nuggets of knowledge. What more can you ask? Right? Yeah.

Steven (01:59):

Well, and few nuggets of knowledge just for the, for the benefit of the audience. This is one of those podcasts that was really difficult for us to schedule because there’s a 13 hour time difference between, between a couple of us and only a 12 hour difference between, between a couple of us. So and you’ll find out why, because today’s guest is Joel Pang. She is the general manager of Fast Jobs Malaysia. And kind of hold onto your seats because she’s got quite the impressive resume. I’m I’m feeling a little bit overwhelmed at how little I’ve done and how much she’s done. Joel has over 12 years of experience and technology startups in a few different spaces. E-Commerce, recruitment, mobile and on demand. She was the founder of two startups, one of which she exited after leading it to become Singapore’s leading fashion e-commerce platform. I can be qualified to do e-commerce, but not so much fashion.

Peter (03:05):

We can see your clothing today. Definitely not fashion.

Steven (03:08):

Yeah. Nobody has ever accused me of being fashionable.

Peter (03:12):

Although that looks like the, that looks like the Zelensky drab Olive T-shirt. Yes. So,

Steven (03:18):

Yes, you

Peter (03:19):

Qualified for

Steven (03:20):

That. Yes. The audience can’t see the video, but I am wearing a plain olive green t-shirt. And I would like to say it was in support of, of, of Ukraine, but it, it, it’s, it’s not, it’s just what was clean in the closet. So Joelle’s company, fast Jobs, Malaysia, and its sister’s site fast Gig Malaysia, they focus on helping to connect low wage job seekers to meaningful employment opportunities. I’m really looking forward to learning more about that. Joel, welcome to the Inside Job Boards and Recruitment Marketplaces podcast.

Joelle (03:55):

Thank you for having

Peter (03:55):

Me. We appreciate that you’ve got up and stayed up. It’s only 8:00 PM in your area, so we’re not, we didn’t ask you to stay up too late. We tried this once before somebody had a microphone problem. I won’t say who, but it wasn’t Steven. Mm-Hmm. and that didn’t work, but you had stayed up until midnight, so we really, and you would’ve been up till one in the morning. We really appreciate that. It is good to talk to you. We obviously saw you at the AIM group’s Rebus conference in Barcelona in 2019. This year we had Huan Lim spoke at the conference at Rebus Amsterdam. Can you talk a little bit about the major differences between how job boards, recruit marketplaces operate in North America, Europe, and Asia, and specifically Malaysia, but Malaysia, Singapore, and Southeast Asia? What are the differences?

Joelle (05:02):

I would say that in terms of job bots, so for fast, for fast jobs, we focus on the low wage or the non-executive blue collar segment of the workforce. So everything moves really fast in Southeast Asia. And when we are talking about, you know, and we are caught fast jobs for a reason. So in terms of the segment of the workforce that we are focusing on, a key difference really is that we are talking about hiring in huge volumes and in an extremely compressed timeline. So the kind of job seekers that we are helping to connect to job opportunities are, you know, people who work in your retail f and b, hospitality, warehousing, logistics, customer service, no administrative staff. And sometimes you’re talking about hiring a hundred or even 300, you know, customer service or customer facing retail store associates to support an opening of an outlet. So definitely a lot of what we are looking at is very fast paced, high volume, urgent hiring. And I would say that that’s a, a key, a key differentiator. Because what we are also looking at is that, you know, we do have a high percentage of non-executive job seekers over here in Asia and in Malaysia itself. We have, we’re talking about 75% of our workforce following within this segment of the workforce that we are connecting to job opportunities for

Peter (06:29):

My co-host Steven also does a high volume hiring podcast. What’s, what’s different about high volume hiring from onesies or fivesies <laugh>, if I can make up a word,

Steven (06:47):


Joelle (06:47):

Yep. So I, I think that, that’s a great question, right? Because the vision for, for us at FastCo has always been to reduce the disconnect between the white collar, you know recruiters and also the blue collar job seekers. And this exactly falls within the question that you are asking, because if I were to ask you, you know Peter or Steven, if you’re looking to hire a senior marketing manager, maybe you might say, okay, it, it’ll be a really optimistic if I get a great, a great candidate to join me in in two months time and, and after serving diagnosis maybe three months time. But if I’m a restaurant owner looking to open three outlets in the next month, I’m talking about hiring a hundred, you know, front, front of front of kitchen, back of kitchen, kitchen helper service crew. And I meet them here in two weeks time so that they are going to be trained and ready for the grand opening. And if I do not get the, the, the sufficient number of, you know candidates or, or workers in my organization or my restaurant in time, we are gonna be talking about rental. We are gonna be talking about operational costs, that’s gonna be in cut, and we are gonna be talking about missed economic opportunities simply if we do not high end time.

Steven (07:59):

Yeah, that is really an insightful and, and very much the same in North American Europe, that the speed to hire, not just the how long it takes you to fill in the application form ’em, but just when you get back to the candidate, when you extend the offer, how fast you’re able to train and onboard them the, the, the fastest employers win. One of the things that I think plays into the speed that really helps fast jobs and fast gig is that, if I understand correctly, you’re mobile first, and in North America and Europe, there are certainly mobile first job boards and recruitment marketplaces, but there’re unusual, the vast majority of niche sites either have no mobile app at all, or it’s hardly used. The most of the job boards in recruitment marketplaces, all the action is on the website. Give a feeling for why there, there’s that difference. Is it, is it just a, a fast jobs and fast gigs thing, or is that common in, in, in Malaysia, Singapore,

Joelle (09:04):

I would say that on high, I would say that if you were to analyze, you know the usage of technology by job seekers here in Singapore and Malaysia, it would make a lot of sense to be mobile first. And I think it’s really easy to quote mobile first, right? But what it actually really means is that we actually released and introduced fast jobs on a mobile app even before we had a website, a web platform for job seekers to, you know, search for jobs. So that’s really what we meant with mobile first. And I would say that that is something that’s extremely unique for fast shops as well, because we spent, you know, a lot of time speaking with job seekers or say the, the customers that we are looking to serve before we even designed and introduce fast shops as a platform to connect job seekers to employers in this space.


And why we have actually selected this strategy is because we do notice that internet penetration and smartphone penetration especially, is extremely, extremely high in Southeast Asia and in Malaysia, in fact we are talking about high 90, 90% plus, you know, of smartphone mobile smartphone ownership. Some even own three to four mobile phones to juggle multiple like business streams and, and and workflows. And what this also means for our segment of the job seekers where most of them are lower wage income earners, is that the usage of, or the ownership of smartphones as compared to laptops or desktops is four times higher. So if you are looking to meaningfully connect this low wage shop seekers to no gainful employment opportunities, we definitely need to put these opportunities on devices that they are more likely to, to, you know, to own. So with the strategy of mobile first, we are actually able to place thousands of job opportunities in the palm of their hands as long as they’re able to afford a very, very basic smartphone.

Peter (10:59):

I, I’m still hung up on the notion of having three or four smartphones. When I was in Hong Kong, somebody explained to me why somebody would have three smartphones. One is the personal phone, one is the China phone that I use for calling people in China, and one is the Hong Kong regular phone, but I don’t, I don’t know where the fourth one comes in. <Laugh>, let’s talk how, if you, if, if you’re, if you’re trying to drive high volume hiring, you also have to drive high volume traffic and you have to reach job seekers, a lot of job seekers, <laugh>, how do you do that? Are you spending a ton of money on marketing? Are you bus cards everywhere? How do, how do you drive the traffic?

Joelle (11:48):

So that’s a great question, Peter. And I’m actually reminded of the very first question you, and this might be something that’s extremely unique to the Southeast Asian market, where the non-executive, you know, operational, custom customer facing job seekers really do make up a huge I’ll say majority of the job seekers here in our part of the world. And if you ask me like, how do we actually build up our, our huge base of job seekers, like, for example, in just Malaysia alone fast jobs has over 1.5 million Malaysia based job seekers. And if you were to add in our, the job seekers we serve in Singapore and Philippines as well, we are talking about, you know, close to 5 million job seekers and I’m sorry. No, we do not have a huge marketing budget, but what we do have is I would say a very meaningful product market fit.


And if you think about it the, the recruitment space for the blue collar ops seekers has not been a very, I would say, not a very highly served, in fact, it has been a underserved, you know hiring and recruitment space by technology for a really long time now, where you have, you know, platforms like, you know, LinkedIn and and so on that caters to, to this white collar or, you know, managerial executive positions. A lot of this low wage of non-executive job seekers have often had to rely on just walking around malls and also walking around shop lots looking for vacancy, hiring urgent hiring signs. And also just, you know, sometimes going to manpower agencies where, you know, they have to approach a middle man just to be connected to a meaningful job opportunity.


So the idea of just having thousands of opportunities that might be customized and catered to your, your preferences and your, and your, I would say availability is definitely something very revolutionary. And I would say that because it really does serve a huge market meet, the moment we introduce our app and just with a little bit of, you know, outreach offline activities and online marketing we saw our job seeker base just grow and grow and, and it, it really just gained huge traction to the size that we are today. And even right now, a lot of our new job seekers get to know about fast shops through word of mouth, because the most important thing is to, to really in the proof is in the pudding, right? That, you know, use fast jobs and you get connected to a meaningful gainful opportunity with an employer that has been, you know, vetted and I would say vetted by us before they even start posting a job.

Steven (14:25):

We’ll be back right after this break.


Welcome back to the inside job boards and Recruitment Marketplaces podcast. When you and I met a few years ago at, at the what was then Rec Plus conference in Barcelona now Rec Buzz, and hopefully we’ll be able to be in the same room again in, in, in April in Berlin for the next wreck Buzz. I just loved the, the, the passion, the language, the meaningful employment, and the example you just gave of somebody like walking around a shopping mall looking for help, wanted signs they can find employment, the likelihood that it’s gonna be meaningful, that it’s gonna be really well matched with their skills, with their ambitions, the hours that work for their families. It’s just not nearly as good as if they can use a site like a fast jobs or a fast gig where they can tap into a lot more jobs and, and find the best match.


So much better for the candidate, so much better for the employer. I hope that, that you and, and the rest of your team every day kind of keep that in mind, that, that it’s truly admirable the, the work that that you’re doing and, and others in our space to, to help people find meaningful careers. Question for you. You know, we’ve been talking about the business in Malaysia and in Singapore. It really seems like you guys really know what you’re doing and, and are really listening to your customers, job seekers, employers. Are you planning on bringing that success to other countries?

Joelle (16:10):

So definitely I think that our focus is on uplifting the livelihoods of these low wage workers in Southeast Asia. So definitely we had a great start in Singapore where we are headquarted and Singapore has always been this unique mix where the, the ratio of, you know, blue collar to white collar job seekers is about 50 50. And then of course our next market being Malaysia the percentage of the, the market that we serve goes up a little to about 75%. And if you look at the opportunities in the other countries in Southeast Asia Philippines, where we are also based or even, you know, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, we are talking about the blue collar non executive workforce taking up, you know, 90, 90 plus percent off the total, you know, workforce in the respective countries. So definitely huge, huge opportunity. And when we talk about opportunity it’s not, it’s not so much just, okay, how can we, you know grow our footprint or how can we, you know get more customers getting more job seekers. But I think what really, really drives us as well is really the skill of the impact that we can make, because our vision is really to uplift the livelihoods of this low rich income earners in Southeast Asia by using technology, of

Peter (17:26):

Course. Sounds fair. You mentioned Vietnam, Thailand, those places. Would the same app and the same approach work there? I mean, are you actively and aggressively looking at those markets, or are you just kinda thinking they might be, might be good places to go eventually? And I don’t want to ask you to give away trade secrets, obviously.

Steven (17:52):

Oh, I do though.

Peter (17:54):


Steven (17:54):


Peter (17:55):

I do too, but not on the podcast. We do that for AIM group marketplaces reports the

Steven (18:01):

Three of us will just keep it between ourselves. Yeah, nobody, nobody over there. Okay. Yeah.

Joelle (18:05):

So no worries. Let me, let me just put on my, my head as a regional and a business developer, right? I will say that, you know, it isn’t so much a trade secret or or so much of, you know are we just going to launch our at wholesale? But what I will say is that in this non-executive blue collar space recruitment itself is still very much a traditional industry. And what I have came to realize over all this years is that the more I would say the more traditional and industry, the more localization it will take in order for it to, to gain traction and to, and to also build up a meaningful footprint in, in, in terms of both getting clients as well as shop seekers. So of course it, it, it’s really sexy, right, to be saying that we, we are planting a flag here, we are planting a flag there. But I think what is most important for us is to find meaningful product market fit. Because FastCo, as a, as a company and, and with the, the ethos that we have, we are really here to build a sustainable business. Where doing good is part of doing good business.

Peter (19:13):

Sounds fair.

Steven (19:14):

So March 14th, you’re gonna be opening, I’m just kidding. <Laugh>

Peter (19:19):

<Laugh>. Sounds good. Are there any specifics about a gig platform on mobile that really work or really don’t? And I think I got one more quick question after that.

Joelle (19:38):

So I will say that, you know be beyond just talking about the features and what, what fast gig you know, has to offer. I would actually really love to talk about why Fast Gig was even introduced as a platform to compliment what we do at Fast Jobs. And it really just goes back to the why, you know, of Fast Jobs itself. And our vision has always been to create equal access to job opportunities for everyone including the low wage workers, including the non-executive job seekers. And what we have really seen is that, you know, let us not forget the pandemic. I know we don’t wanna talk about that anymore, but that has happened and it has really changed the way we look for jobs. It has changed our relationship with jobs in, in just that two years alone. And what has re what we have really seen is this huge shift in the hiring and job seeking space is this increasing need for flexibility.


And it’s also a time where workers not just white collar, but even blue collar you know, job seekers all around the world are finding an increasing need for, you know, flexibility. And it’s not so much just a case of, oh, you know, I want work life balance, or all my priorities have changed. Of course, those are reasons too, but a lot of times in the segment of the workforce that we help and support and, and hope to hope to uplift a big cut of why they require this flexibility is because caregiving duties in a lot of their households have shifted. So, you know, job seekers who may use to be able to put up their time for a six 16 work week, a full-time role, which requires them to work five to six days a week, is simply just not able to do that anymore.


And instead of just discounting this entire group of, you know, job seekers who used to be able to work full-time and consider them as no longer relevant to our job seeker or our platform, we started thinking, you know, hey, circumstances may have changed and also job seeking behaviors or requirements may have changed. But how do we as an organization keep in mind our vision to continue creating equal access to job opportunities, even if the format of the job opportunity might have changed? And that is actually the genesis of <inaudible> where we are also helping employers now to, to meet their operational needs. Because, you know, even in our part of the world, it has became more and more challenging to hire post pandemic. So right now with <inaudible>, we are helping job seekers in whatever format and whatever available time that they have, whether it be just weekends for some students or a few days a week for stay home moms who still want to contribute and participate in the workforce.


We allow them and give them the opportunity simply by providing flexible, you know, gig work that allows them to contribute whatever free time that they have to still earn a gainful income for themselves with respectable, reputable employers. And of course, this is also where we are really thinking about how can we enable and also empower our employers to still meet their operational needs and also tap on what we call a hybrid workforce that is made up of both full-timers as well as freelancers, not only to meet their operational needs, but also to help them to keep a lean and on demand workforce that is also supporting their daily operations. Because let us not forget that the recessionary pressures are also looming in the background. And I think this is really how we are really I’ll say thinking not just about the solutions, but really thinking about what are the problems that we exist to solve.

Peter (23:19):

Well, that also answered another one of my questions, which was, <laugh>, can you explain the difference between fast jobs and fast gigs? And you just did very, very well. So I’m gonna bring us full circle with the final question and then we’ll wrap up cuz we’re running a little long, but that’s always good. How many cell phones, mobile phones do you have?

Joelle (23:39):

<Laugh>? Oh, that’s a great question. I used to have two and then similar to you, I was like, how do I even juggle? Like how do I, how do I let two devices run my life and I have gone back to just one mobile phone with two sim cards.

Peter (23:53):

<Laugh>, there you go.

Steven (23:54):


Peter (23:55):

Okay. So one ring tones for the family and one is for work or some variation thereof.

Joelle (24:03):

So my phone is so secret, right? My phone is always on silent because I wanna stay in control of how I use my time and how do I, how I stay focused.

Peter (24:13):

There you go. Well,

Joelle (24:15):

So no ring tone.

Peter (24:16):

It’s, it’s, it’s great to hear about what’s going on in Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, and to hear you say, our next markets are Vietnam and Thailand and no, only kidding <laugh>. You said those might be in the future, so I don’t want to put words in your mouth. Thank you for people who wanna find you. Where should they find you and FastCo Fast gigs. Fast jobs and let’s spell your name cause Joel could be spelled 16 ways from Sunrise. <Laugh>, j o e l l e, Pang with a P is fairly obvious. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, find you on LinkedIn or email you or how do they find you?

Joelle (24:59):

So definitely look for me on LinkedIn. I’m quite active there. And you can look for me with just Joel Punk or you can always drop me an email at Joelle

Peter (25:11):

Sounds terrific. Any last words, Steven?

Steven (25:14):

I would just really like to thank you. Thank you for being up a little bit on the late side for, so that our listeners can learn more about the job markets and Singapore and Malaysian and how how Faco helps them. For the record, I have one cell phone, but but it’s not just my cell phone that controls my life, it’s also my dog,

Peter (25:37):

<Laugh>, the dog is your cell phone or the dog controls your life.

Steven (25:41):

The dog controls my life.

Peter (25:43):

Got it. Yes. Got it. Joel, thanks very much.

Joelle (25:47):

Thank you so much. It was a great chat.

Steven (25:49):

Thank you.

Peter (25:51):

Inside job boards and recruitment marketplaces is a co-production of Evergreen Podcasts College Recruiter and the AIM Group.

Steven (26:00):

Please subscribe for free on your favorite app, review it five stars are always nice, and recommend it to a couple of people you know who wanna learn more about job boards and recruitment marketplaces.

Peter (26:11):

Special thanks to our producer and engineer, Ian Douglas. I’m your host, Peter Zalman of the AIM Group, the leading global consultancy in the field of marketplaces and classified advertising. Find out more about our reports on recruitment marketplaces, job boards and classifieds, including our new recruitment marketplaces annual at aim

Steven (26:37):

I’m your host Steven Rothberg of job search site college recruiter. Each year we help more than 12 candidates find great new jobs. Our customers are primarily Fortune 1000 companies, government agencies, and other employers who hire at scale and advertise their jobs with us. You can reach me at

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