Picture this. You want to change jobs but never find a job posting early enough to apply for the advertised job. Or, you could be eying a particular company whose vision, per your investigations, appeals to your personal goals. If you were to get into that company, you would consider it your dream job. But the said company only posts advertisements for new job openings once in a blue moon, and you would love to be in the know when they do so next. Thankfully, web scraping is a perfect solution.
What is Web Scraping?
Web scraping is the process of extracting data from a website or multiple websites. It exists in many forms, both simple and complicated. For instance, copying a link from a YouTube description to a new tab or a document on your computer is a manual form of web scraping. However, in most cases, whenever the term web scraping is used, it mostly refers to the automated type.
Companies and businesses use automated web scraping for the following applications:
- Price and competition monitoring
- Review and repetition monitoring
- Price aggregation
- Lead generation
- Collecting information for market analysis, among others.
Web Scraping Job Postings
The numerous job sites, career webpages on companies’ websites, and numerous job postings imply that data on jobs exist in large volumes. In fact, there were over 6.6 million job vacancies in the United States alone in October 2020 alone. Similarly, in Europe, a single job site processed over 1.4 million job offers from 9 European countries – although there a possibility that some posts had been repeated – in November 2020.
Between March and April, over 20 million people lost their jobs in the USA alone. With these massive layoffs being a reality for other countries as well and the trend continuing for most of the year, the number of job seekers increased correspondingly. And what’s more, even those with jobs are seeking new opportunities.
These statistics point to the fact that web scraping job postings are now more crucial than ever before – it makes job search efficient and easy. Interestingly, it is not only the reserve of job seekers but also businesses.
Importance of Job Search Data
Of course, those searching for employment opportunities benefit from the convenience of having a web scraping tool that automatically looks for and extracts data on suitable jobs for you. However, the benefits of web scraping job postings to businesses outnumber those experienced by job seekers. With the job search data, businesses can achieve the following:
- Recruiting firms scrape job sites and career pages to keep their databases up to date.
- Websites that post jobs (job aggregator sites) scrape the internet to ensure they update their pages with new jobs.
- Statistical analysis companies rely on web scraping job postings to obtain data for analyzing the labor market.
- Businesses scrape the web to establish the jobs their competitors have posted, employment benefits, and compensations. This enables them to remain competitive.
- Companies use web scraping tools to generate leads, thereby providing contacts that they subsequently use to send proposals for their services.
While these benefits sound straightforward, the reality is various challenges prevent companies from experiencing them fully.
Challenges of Web Scraping Job Postings
1. Anti-Scraping measure
Large job aggregator sites have put measures in place to thwart web scraping. These measures, collectively known as anti-scraping tools, limit web data extraction by blocking IP addresses, scanning user agents, using CAPTCHA, and requiring a user to login first before accessing additional data, to mention a few.
Fortunately, proxy servers can be used to prevent the websites from blocking your IP address, thereby facilitating smooth web scraping of job postings.
Before starting any web scraping, you need to determine which to scrape between career pages and job aggregator sites. This choice should be guided by the fact that the former type is easier to extract data from because company websites do not put as many anti-scraping measures as popular job aggregator sites.
Further, the fact that there are tens of job aggregator sites on the internet implies that you also need to pick one.
Nonetheless, thanks to automated web scraping, you can simultaneously extract data from as many websites as possible. You can choose between Python web scraping, an in-house type of automated web scraping, or a ready-to-use scraper. The former type makes more sense if you or a member of your team has Python programming knowledge. Otherwise, the latter would be the better option.
Web scraping job postings has numerous benefits for job seekers and companies alike. However, it is associated with certain challenges, but the good thing is solutions also exist. Using automated web scraping tools alongside a proxy server from a reputable provider is the surest bet you have to overcome the challenges.
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