When we think about recruitment, it’s often in the full-time aspect. The hiring industry is host to a myriad of job listing sites and professional headhunting firms that cater to the search. But more than we realize, job seekers are often faced with the issue of hiring companies favoring candidates with prior working experience, and a lengthy one at that.
With a culture that perpetuates working long hours and doing whatever it takes to achieve our career goals, it doesn’t leave much room for those still trying to find their place. But in recent years, that stereotype has seen a change as a new generation looks to dictate what it means to be career-driven and still have a healthy work-life balance.
In the case of listings that ask for an individual to have worked a specific number of years to be considered, TROOPERS aims to be that stepping stone and give potential job seekers the competitive edge they need.
“We felt that between getting ready to graduate and finding your first job, there was a space where many people could leverage a platform that could help them gain some on-the-job work experience and beautify their resume, so to speak,” said Joshua Tan, Co-founder and CEO of TROOPERS.
After leaving his job as an associate consultant at PwC Malaysia, and undergoing triple back surgeries, Joshua decided to venture out on his own and focus on something he was passionate about. It was only after talking to friend and fellow TROOPERS co-founder, Kelvin Lee, that he was introduced to the idea of starting a part-time recruitment firm.
Growing up, the pair were accustomed to the traditional methods of finding a part-time stint, and found that that just wouldn’t cut it in this day and age. Looking to change the game, they decided to make it their duty to bring young Malaysians efficient, on-the-job work opportunities.
“Studying overseas exposed me to an environment that was very familiar with the concept of gaining work experience pre-graduation before pursuing a full-time career. But Kelvin and I noticed this wasn’t really prevalent in Malaysia. So, we decided to create an ecosystem that could assist young Malaysians in finding part-time work and accumulate some experience in a safe, secure and transparent manner.”
By securing a partnership with Uber, and working with the car hailing service on the hire of part-timers under its operation team, Joshua was able to give TROOPERS the boost it needed to move up the ladder. Now, the platform is empowering thousands of Malaysians and giving them the tools to generate their own income. Especially during a very volatile moment in our economy.
As we move into a post-pandemic season, finding a job has been more competitive than ever. The situation has also given rise to more job seekers opting out of full-time jobs, and considering something that offers them more freedom and the chance to be their own boss. “They want the flexibility that comes with deciding when they want to work and take time off, and as a platform, we’re trying to achieve something that can give people that freedom of choice through secure and legitimate means.”
“Change is always difficult and there’s a constant need to adapt. I think one of the most crucial things we need to take note of now is the understanding that people are your biggest asset. With that, you have to make sure the welfare of these people are taken care of. That’s something we at TROOPERS emphasize as well,” adds Josh.
But coming fresh out of a corporate setting, the young CEO was at an impasse as to how he was going to start his business from scratch without knowledge of the industry and financial resources. Joshua admits that it was very much a ‘learn as we go’ situation with a touch of trial and error. “We were very blessed to have an angel investor that supported us and provided us that initial capital to get our business up-and-running.”
The once 2-person team that consisted of Joshua and his co-founder Kelvin has now grown into a collective of almost 60, each playing their part in building TROOPERS to where it is today. Despite the uncertainties, Joshua cements that he would do it all again.
“If you asked me what I would’ve done differently, I’d say that I wouldn’t change a thing. It’s because of those challenges that we learned to hustle and understand what it takes to run a business.”
Joshua and his team took a solid few years to find their footing before investing in going digital, expanding their arsenal to include their first full-fledged app. Launched in February 2021, the TROOPERS app provides users with one-stop management integrated solutions from tracking shifts, managing payroll to offering insurance services through TROOPERS Protect.
Part-timers are also given the power to choose how and when they earn, as well as withdraw their earnings in real-time, skipping the whole 30-day waiting process; something Joshua is immensely proud of.
“One of the best decisions I made was not jumping immediately into developing an app. We wanted to prove our concept first and foremost, ensuring our part-timers were paid on time and comfortable with reaching out to us should they come across any issues with the job,” says Josh confidently.
In an effort to go beyond the conventional recruitment platform, Josh hopes to put focus on matching the right people to the right jobs before anything else, believing that their main draw is them being a job-matching platform; Where other services would require hiring managers to pay a fee in order to list a job on their platform, TROOPERS only requests for payment upon a successful part-time match.
Motivated to bring a positive impact to the community, Joshua’s once risky business leap of faith has grown past the expectations of the co-founder, and has proven that short-term work can be as viable as any other form of employment.
“I’ve come across people who would tell me how grateful they were to TROOPERS for giving them the opportunity to put food on the table or allow them to afford a laptop so they could go to school. This is what really drives the team and I to keep going.”
“Hopefully in the next 5 to 10 years, I can look back and be proud of what we’ve accomplished. But this is not the end and we’re excited about what the future holds for us.”
Penny For Your Thoughts
How would you define a “good life” and/versus a “successful life”?
I would define a good life from a personal perspective. Coming from humble beginnings, I’ve learned to be very grateful for all things I have. I’m fortunate to have my family and close friends around me, blessed with good health and being able to contribute to building a better society.
From a successful life point-of-view, I would look at it from a career perspective. I don’t consider myself successful by any stretch, but I measure it by seeing how many job opportunities Troopers can provide and being able to give people an avenue to earn additional income and empower them to cater to their family.
What is the bravest thing you have ever done?
This may sound cliché but, I would say starting this business was the bravest thing I’ve ever done. My mom brought me up with the principle that I had to work hard for a stable income and would say to me, ‘Josh, don’t start your own business. Get a job, work the corporate ladder, get a good income and take care of your family.’
I think it took a lot of courage, sleepless nights and three back surgeries for me to understand that I wanted to do more with my life. I thought that if I wanted to live a fulfilling life, I had to do something with a positive impact, not just for myself but for the community as well.
Advice you would give your younger self?
Take it easy. When I first started, I always wondered why my business didn’t achieve what I had set out for it or why we didn’t get that investment or funding. But I understand now that everything has its time and place, and you need to be in a position where you are ready to receive opportunities. So I’d tell young Josh, take it easy, don’t worry, stick to your principles and trust the process. In time, things will fall into place.