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“How Can You Build and Monetize a Job Aggregator? 7 Business Models Beyond PPC”

The market for job search tools and recruitment software is plagued by choice. From job boards to job aggregators to social networks to employer branding and sourcing tools, there are tons of solutions for filling jobs. In this article, we’ll talk about job aggregator development.

Job aggregators aren’t cutting-edge technology. But they’re widely used in the recruitment industry. Job aggregators appeared in the mid-2000s to substitute online job boards. Today, 77% of job boards use aggregators to distribute their jobs, according to Smartjobboard.


Image source: Smartjobboard

Building a job aggregator makes good business sense. But for it to be profitable, you need to pick out a competitive business model.

We’ll discuss seven possible business models for a job aggregator. But first, let’s figure out how job aggregators work and what their weakest spot is.

How do job aggregators work?

Similar to Google, a job aggregator is a search engine. It pulls together jobs posted on various job boards. The core values of any aggregator are data and advanced search functionality.

To get data for your job aggregator, you can copy jobs from career pages and job boards to your database. Some job posting websites provide XML feeds that make it faster to publish jobs to aggregators.

To build a search engine, SteelKiwi recommends Elasticsearch and Algolia. Elasticsearch is an open source solution for implementing search operations on different types of data structures. It’s a great choice if you want to avoid extra costs. Algolia is a cloud-based service with pricing starting at $35 per month.

The problem of job aggregators

The main purpose of job aggregators – and other job search tools – is to match the right people with the right jobs. But this isn’t what job aggregators are good at. While they bring a lot of candidates to employers, the number of actual hires thanks to job aggregators isn’t that large.

Job aggregators show job listings to millions of people who are looking for career opportunities. And this leads to many unqualified candidates applying for jobs.

Getting the wrong candidates is one challenge that vendors of job aggregator sites struggle with. The other one is lack of functionality that appeals to job seekers.

Many aggregators make money using a pay-per-click model where companies pay to advertise their jobs. In other words, job aggregators are optimized to serve the needs of employers. But what about the needs of job seekers?

People who are looking for a job often feel overwhelmed with the number of vacancies across job boards, aggregators, and social networks. There are so many opportunities, but job seekers don’t necessarily benefit from the quantity.

How can you build an aggregator that brings value to both job seekers and employers?

Discovery is one of the major challenges in the recruiting industry. If you want to build a successful job aggregator, you need to ease the discovery process for employers and job seekers.

A good business model needs to answer three questions: What does the customer value? How will you make money? How will you deliver value to customers at an appropriate cost?

Let’s discuss seven possible business models for job aggregators.

Business models for job aggregators

1. Niche job aggregator

Your job aggregator can focus on work opportunities in a particular industry. Narrowly focused job sites are more attractive for employers and job seekers than generic job boards.

For example, Oilwork pulls together jobs in the oil and gas industry and offers advanced search functionality. A user can type in “electrical engineer in Abu Dhabi” and get results that match that specific query.

Another idea is to develop an aggregator that focuses on job openings for executives and professionals. ExecThread is a peer-to-peer network of executives who share jobs with one another. This aggregator taps into the market of job openings that aren’t publicly advertised. ExecThread helps executives discover new career opportunities and helps hiring managers find the best candidates.

Creating a niche job aggregator is a great idea for blogs and communities with high volumes of traffic. CrunchBoard and Smashing Jobs are examples of job boards for software development companies. TechCrunch and Smashing Magazine built them on top of their existing communities.

CrunchBoard. Image source: JobBoard

You can monetize a niche job aggregator by selling job posts or selling access to your job seeker database. Or you can sell ads through a pay-per-click model.

2. Concierge service

Value-added services are an effective way to differentiate a job aggregator. What services might these be?

According to a recent study by Jobvite, recruiters tend to hire applicants they know. A full 72% of new hires come from employee referrals and internal applicants. If recruiters make so many hires internally, maybe it’s crucial to let a job seeker get their resume in front of the right person?

Mentat is a job aggregator that connects employees to decision-makers and hiring managers. Networking is the best way to get hired, and Mentat helps their users do just that – make direct contacts with recruiters.

Mentat has two business models. They make money on their $29.99 per month subscription service and also provide a package of concierge services for a monthly fee of $249. The company has 50 advisors on staff who help job seekers optimize their LinkedIn profiles and resumes, write cover letters, and apply for jobs on an applicant’s behalf.

Mentat also has an interesting value proposition for educational institutions. With the help of Mentat, schools can guarantee that their graduates will get interviews after graduation.

Mentat. Image source: TechCrunch

A job aggregator that provides concierge services is a challenging business model. To make it work, you need to have a strong network of hiring managers and recruiters. And you need to make sure they receive a good ROI for their recruitment spending.

Online concierge services are a great evolution for agencies offering recruitment consultancy services.

3. Career portal

Your job aggregator can grow into a career portal – a website that provides useful resources to help people land a job. These resources may include a library of articles that offer career advice, courses and trainings, webinars, podcasts, and videos. A career portal can gather industry news and provide a directory of events and job opportunities.

Paragon One is an example of a career portal. It’s an online coaching service and mentor marketplace for students that helps them find jobs and internships in the US.

There are many ways to monetize a career portal. You can make money from sponsored content posted by educational organizations and career services. You can also collect data about your portal’s users to create targeted marketing campaigns for event organizers, career advisors, and other service providers.

4. One-click job posting service

A one-click posting service lets recruiters post their jobs on many job boards simultaneously to gain better visibility for their ads. One-click job posting services post jobs on free and premium job boards. Free job boards include Indeed and Glassdoor. Premium boards include generic job search websites such as CareerBuilder, LinkedIn, and Monster, as well as niche job boards like GitHub and StackOverFlow.

Besides posting jobs to job boards, you can offer to promote recruiters’ ads on social networks, run banner ads, and send segmented email campaigns to job seekers.

Many recruiting tools – for example, Recruitee and Workable – offer one-click job posting services as part of their main offering.

Image sourcing: Workable

To make money from an automatic job posting service, you can use the pay-per-post, pay-per-click, or pay-per-applicant model (where employers pay for applications they receive).

5. Data collector

Pay-per-post and pay-per-click aren’t the only models to monetize a job aggregator. Job postings can be completely free for employers. Once you’ve collected enough job seeker profiles, applications, and resumes, you can make money by selling user data.

This type of business model requires user accounts where job seekers can register, upload their resumes, and fill in personal information.

6. Programmatic job advertising platform

To fill open positions, recruiters use marketing tactics. They buy placement for their ads on job aggregators and job boards to reach an audience of potential employees. This is similar to the way marketers buy space on websites where their audience spends their time.

Programmatic advertising for marketing relies on algorithms that process massive datasets to determine which ads should go on which sites at what times.

But since the scale of traditional ads can’t compare to the scale of job ads, programmatic job advertising platforms function a bit differently. Their software is rule-based, so rules govern job advertising budgets.

For example, the rules that a Recruitics user sets may look like this:

  • If my Python developer job in New York has fewer than 10 applicants, then increase the bid to $1.50 on Indeed.
  • If my Python developer job gets 20 applicants, then stop spending on this job.

Recruitics’ programmatic ad packages start at $499 per month.

Image source: Recruitics

Appcast is another programmatic advertising platform. They apply a pay-per-applicant pricing model and have a network of more than 120 million candidates across more than 10,000 sites.

7. Professional network

The last business model on our list is the hardest to create. To pull it off, you first need to solve the chicken-and-egg problem and find a value proposition that can compete with other social networks.

A professional network is based on connections. It can connect companies and individuals from a particular professional field or from a certain country. For example, CreativePool is a network of professionals from the creative industries. AngelList connects startups with investors. And Xing is a sort of LinkedIn for Germany.

There are many ways to build a recruitment business. You can combine different business models for your job aggregator website. And you can always go with the proven and safe pay-per-click advertising model.

Build a job aggregator with SteelKiwi

Whatever business model you choose, we would be happy to support your software development efforts. We have expertise in developing recruitment software for both web and mobile platforms. Read more about our expertise here.