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4 Best Practices for Keeping Your Job Listing Web Scrapes Up and Running

Online job boards make life easier for businesses and employment candidates. But for job boards to provide the value they promise, the jobs they display must be accurate and up to date. This means that the web scrapes pulling data to fuel those listings must be in good working order. 

Here are four best practices job boards can implement to ensure that happens.

1. Configure Your Scrapes Correctly

Any given web page may include information in many languages (HTML, CSS, Java) and data exchange formats (JSON, XML). Each of these languages and formats has different rules that impact web scrapes, and it’s important that you understand them before setting up your scrape. 

Fortunately, many sites present their jobs data in both HTML and a backend data format, like JSON or XML. When this happens, make sure to scrape the jobs data from the JSON or XML file. Those are less likely to change than an HTML page, which means your scrapes will be less likely to break and will require less maintenance.

2. Institute Regular Reviews of Your Scrapes 

You should monitor your scrape every time you update – i.e., every time you run the scrape. This is why real-time scrapes require so much work: they require real-time monitoring.

Monitoring can uncover many issues, including…  

  • Changes to website design or HTML.
  • Removal of a category listing.
  • Migration of career pages (404 errors).
  • Substantial changes in job numbers.
  • 500 errors (when the website is unavailable or down).

While third-party software can streamline your job scraping efforts, those platforms usually don’t include monitoring. This means your team must manually check to verify that scrapes are operational. 

That might not sound too bad in theory, but in practice, if you want your scrapes to remain operational (while also ensuring accurate listings on your job board), your developers will need to conduct daily reviews. This is difficult given that most job boards have to parse thousands of job listings every hour, on top of any additional IT functions your developers need to complete.

3. Update Your Scrapes Accordingly

Once you find errors, of course, you have to fix them.

The effort involved will depend on the types of scrapes you have. HTML pages change more often than JSON and XML files, for example, so scrapes of HTML data are likely to require more frequent maintenance.

It’s important to note, too, that fixing what breaks isn’t just a matter of knowing how to code. The people in charge of this work must also be able to recognize an error, diagnose its cause, and determine what work is needed to fix it.

This pushes the work of scrape maintenance from simple development to more advanced trouble-shooting (plus development), which means you’ll need a more experienced (and higher paid) person to do it.

This brings us to the final best practice for keeping job scrapes up and running.

4. Allocate Adequate Resources to Maintaining Your Scrapes

Conducting effective web scraping requires time and expertise.

If you don’t allocate adequate resources to this work, your web scrapes will likely break without your knowledge. This erodes your bottom line and hurts the job candidate’s experience, which can negatively impact your reputation.

Again, even if you’re using third-party software, you’ll typically need some specialized technical knowledge. That’s because these solutions rarely use WYSIWYG interfaces and, as we mentioned before, typically don’t offer monitoring.

Job Scraping Is Labor-Intensive – Save the Time by Outsourcing

Web scraping is an integral function for job boards. But performing web scraping in house often leads to issues with monitoring scrapes. Addressing these issues in house can drive up your staffing costs by hundreds of thousands of dollars – and then there are the costs of the digital infrastructure you’ll need to update and upgrade as your job scraping expands.

Outsourcing your web scraping solves these problems at a fraction of the cost and allows your in-house developers to focus their efforts on other, more pressing tasks that make use of their specialized knowledge.

If you want to increase the output of your web scrapes without driving up costs, contact us here.

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