How to Build a Job Board with Web Scraping

Job boards are gaining popularity as demand among job seekers is surging. Job boards which cater to particular industries or job types allow for hyper targeted job searches in industries.

Use web scraping to build a job board

Job boards are exploding in popularity, with LinkedIn estimating almost a third of workers in the UK are currently seeking new roles, demand among job seekers is surging. Niche job boards which cater to particular industries or job types are springing up, allowing for targeted job searches in industries like tech, or remote work. With recruitment costs increasing for employers that are still hiring, niche job boards are becoming an asset, increasing the quality of applicants and reducing the number of candidates to screen for interviews. With overheads for Job Board owners low, entrepreneurs have rushed into the space, setting up successful and profitable businesses to pair job seekers with companies in a challenging time.

Creating a job board in 2020 isn’t without its challenges however. For a new job board starting up, a lack of roles being posted on the site and a lack of applicants means that the hard work needs to start with sourcing roles and talent. There is also a big question over technology. Which are the best tools for building a job board and how can you get started even if you don’t know how to code? Luckily, there is a wealth of no-code tools available, meaning that even non-technical founders can set up and run profitable job boards.

But even with the best tools, the challenge remains. How can you quickly fill your niche job board with roles that candidates can apply to? The answer is web scraping. Using web scraping, you can source job roles from mainstream sites that cater to multiple industries. Sourcing highly targeted roles that match the niche or industry of your site using web scraping tools allows you to quickly populate your site without having to manually extract the data yourself. With a successful web scraping process set up to extract jobs and upload them to your site, a niche job board can be up and running within hours, and placing candidates within a few weeks.

Scraping Jobs from Existing Job Boards

In order to populate your niche job board, you will first need to source job postings from existing sites in the country where your target companies are based. To find the most suitable sites in your country, a quick google search such as “Top 10 job sites in country” or even “Top industry job sites in country” should quickly give you an indication. Depending on the popularity of the site and the depth of the job market, you should try and end up with at least 3 sites to pull data from.

From here, you will want to pick a tool to build your web scraper and extract the job postings. The tool that you eventually settle on needs to account for four things;

  1. The volume of job postings you need to extract
  2. Ability to integrate with your website
  3. The difficulty of web scraping your target website
  4. Your programming experience

Most tools on the market charge by the number of pages visited by your web scraper. If you’re looking to extract thousands of pages per month, you may need to factor in the cost of running the scraper and picking the most economical one. Chances are, if you’re running a niche job board website, the number of pages may be significantly lower, and cost should be less of a consideration. It is also worth considering whether you need the tool to integrate with your job board website to automatically upload job postings. For this, your tool needs to have an API, and preferably has a Zapier or Integromat integration pre-built to make this step easier.

One other consideration is that not all websites are created equal when it comes to web scraping. The most popular job boards may actively employ techniques to block web scrapers, known as anti-webscraping. Depending on how hard the website makes extracting data, you may need tools that support proxies, or allow you to build in custom logic to the web scraper. Implementing tools that support this may require some level of programming knowledge, so keep that in mind if you plan on scraping high volumes of pages from very popular job boards.

Popular platforms for building webscrapers are Apify,  ScrapingBee or the Zyte Job Posting API , which provide powerful tools for extracting data from job boards. These tools manage all of the backend processes for navigating the sites and searching for job postings, however you will still need to write some code to program them. For no-code solutions that don't require any programming, Webscraper.ioDatagrab or Octoparse provide point and click tools that run on your computer to extract job postings. These tools don't require any code, but may provide less options for integration or using proxies, which prevent your web scraping from getting blocked.

Building Out Your Job Board

Once you have a web scraper sourcing job postings for you automatically, you can focus on building out your job board website. How you build your job board will be down to your level of experience building websites and your familiarity with tools on the market. The number of tools you could use to build your website are endless, but it is worth mentioning a few if you’re looking to get started. The four components to evaluate here are;

  1. The website
  2. The database
  3. Hosting
  4. Email system.

The website component of your tech stack will be the place that candidates and companies go to search for jobs and post new roles. You want the website to look nice, feel responsive and load quickly. If you’re familiar with building websites, you’re free to use whatever tools you want to design and build the website, just keep in mind that responsiveness on mobile is one of the main factors. Allowing candidates to apply for roles using their mobile devices is key. If you’re new to building job boards, you could consider using a no-code tool such as Webflow or Bubble who provide marketplaces of pre-built templates for job boards that can get you started quickly.

Next we come to the database. The database is where your job postings and candidate profiles will live. You will want your web scraper to integrate with your database, so that job postings extracted by your web scraper can be automatically uploaded here. Again if you’re familiar with web programming, you’re free to use any modern database technology that integrates with your website, taking note that the database needs to be designed with privacy in mind if you are holding sensitive candidate information in it. Otherwise, no-code builders such as Webflow or Bubble have built in content management systems, or CMS that can store this information. As a further recommendation, no-code tools such as Airtable can also be used for storing job postings and integrated with Webflow using Integromat.

For hosting, this decision is one between finding the best price, and ease of use. For an experienced website developer, using a provider like AWS or Digital Ocean may result in the best price and availability, however you will need to manage the build and deployment of your website yourself. If you’re just starting out, Webflow and Bubble can host the website for you, taking away the complexity of managing the servers yourself and providing a seamless experience.

The final decision here is around email, the system you will use to send newsletters, job alerts and billing emails from. Generally, email is managed by third party platforms which help to ensure high deliverability rates, protect against spam and keep emails secure. Having an email system that can integrate with your database of candidates and track sent emails is a bonus with most of the big players such as MailchimpMailerlite or Sendgrid providing strong integration support.

Starting your Niche Job Board Today

There has never been a better time to start a job board, focused on a particular industry, geography or candidates with a certain set of skills. Both candidates and companies benefit from fewer, but better options, and with a closer knit community these job boards can provide support to help candidates find the right company faster than conventional job boards. Whether you’re a veteran website developer or just starting out, the tools have never been more accessible to get your job board started today.

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