Pros and Cons of Scraping Job Postings Using Free Tools

Introduction To Job Postings Extraction

Web scraping, also known as data scraping, refers to the process of retrieving data from a website and storing it in an accessible format in your local computer or the cloud. Choosing to manually copy and paste data will take days as most data viewed using a browser. This process automated by a web scraper which takes mere seconds to achieve the task. 

In the web scraping industry, job data is viewed as important information. According to Gallup’s 2017 State of the American Workplace report, around 51% of workers are in search of new jobs in developed countries while 58% look for jobs online. This means that the online job market is huge and being able to keep track of the data can bring positive results for you if you are a job aggregator, a company looking to hire or if you simply want to get hired. 

Web Scraping

There are two main sources of job data:

  1. Job aggregator sites (Indeed, Monster, etc.)
  2. Job postings of each company

The job postings extraction sites are harder to scrape job data feeds as they use anti-scraping techniques such as Captcha, IP blocks, honeypot traps, and more to protect their information from scraping bots. The job postings of a company, however, are much easier to scrape. But every company uses a different interface which means you will have to use a different crawler for each one. Doing so is no easy task, as it is expensive and challenging to upkeep the crawlers when a website goes through modifications. 

These are the tools you can opt for when doing job postings extraction.

Web Scraping

#1. Using A Web Scraping Tool

The advancement in technology and job postings extraction tools have made it easier to scrape the web even for people coming from a non-technical background. Many web scraping tools or web extractors can be easily found with just one click, some of the most popular ones being Octoparse, Scrapy, and more. These tools retrieve the necessary data by deciphering the HTML structure of the webpage. All you need to do it specify what you need and the program will use its algorithm to understand your demands. Then, your scraping is done automatically without you even moving a finger. You can also schedule a crawling period for most of these tools, which will then perform the tasks effortlessly and integrate the data into your system. 

Web Scraping

Pros:

  1. Most web scraping tools such as Scrapy and Octoparse are open-sourced programs used for free. Others have a free version but require monthly payments to let you use all features. Import.io, ParseHub fall under this criterion. The monthly expenditure ranges anywhere from $60 to $3,000 or higher for these tools.    
  2. Since these tools require you to simply drag and select, they are easy-to-use even for people who know little or no coding. Some of these even provide crawler setup services and training sessions. 
  3. These tools can handle projects of all sizes. You can ask for it to scrape just one webpage or choose thousands of websites. However, if you are using the free version of a web scraping tool, you are likely to find limits as to the number of pages you can scrape per day. 
  4. A web scraping tool is very easy to set up.  
  5. If you become acquainted with the process, it will not take long for you to learn how to set up new crawlers or modify the existing ones by yourselves. 
  6. There is no maintenance of crawlers required from your side, hence there is no maintenance cost. 

Pro & Con

 Cons:

  1. While it is easy to learn how virtual scrapers like Import.io, Dexi.io, and Octoparse work, others may take some time to get used to it. 
  2. While the web scraping tools claim that they are compatible with sites of all kinds, that is far from the truth. There are millions of websites and no tool can cover all of those.  
  3. Most web scraping tools are unable to solve Captcha. 

#2. Making An In-House Web Scraper or Job Postings Extraction Tool

You can build an in-house web scraper from scratch. While the idea may seem unconventional, there are many free tutorials on the Internet that you can view before setting out on your new venture. 

Pros:

  1. You govern the crawling process.
  2. There are no problems when it comes to communication as you control the entire process, as a result of which, there is a faster turnaround.

Cons:

  1. The process of web scraping requires a high level of technical knowledge and skills. Which makes the process of building one’s scraper hard even if you were to hire professionals. Unexpected obstacles can be easily dealt with using web scraping tools or data service providers rather than depending on an independent program. When it comes to large amounts of data scraped regularly, it is better to leave it to the professionals. 
  2. A huge variety of infrastructure ranging from the proxy service provider, a third-party Captcha solver, an array of servers required. Acquiring these essentials and maintaining them daily is a tedious task. 
  3. Scripts will have to regularly update or rewritten periodically. Or else, they will suffer breakdowns in case any website updates their interface. 
  4. The question of web scraping being legal or not debated by many. While public information generally viewed as safe to scrape, there are still some grey areas. If you want to avoid legal issues. It is better to check the TOS (terms of service) of the website before attempting to scrape off it. Doing so is not feasible for every website you scrape. This is why depending on the professionals to do the job minimizes the risk attached to it.  

Conclusion

There is, however, a third option that can help provide you with an end-to-end solution. For not just the extraction of your data but also for analyzing it. And spotting trends, or gaining access to hidden information.

Our team at PromptCloud provides a service named JobsPikr, in which we provide an automated web scraping service where we use machine learning techniques to crawl the pages you want and provide the data in CSV or JSON format for easier integration into your system. Scraping Job posts is simple enough if you are scraping them from a single web-page. Or if you are scraping multiple posts from a single website. But as soon as you add multiple websites and other constraints and dependencies, it becomes a herculean task.

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