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    Case Study: How We Developed a Job Search Website

    Web development is a dynamic and multifaceted field. While some firms might find comfort in churning out similar small-scale projects, our passion lies in crafting intricate web systems. Over the years, we’ve had the privilege of tackling a variety of ambitious projects — ranging from expansive enterprise solutions to unique and innovative ventures for startups.

    Take, for instance, one of our more distinctive undertakings, which involved figuring out how to build a job search engine. Thankfully, as a result of our efforts, the startup concerned has quickly blossomed into a reputable employment platform enjoying a significant market share. 

    If you’re on the brink of founding a project, there are valuable insights to be gained from our experience by asking us how to create a job search website. Let’s delve into what we think can be learned from our approach.

    How to develop a job search engine: from conception to implementation

    I’d like to share with you our experience in launching a specialized job search platform that carved out a unique place in an untapped niche. We focused on vacancies at Western and Northern European companies, targeting roles in sectors such as agriculture, construction, industry, transport, and services, including seasonal positions. 

    Our platform paved the way for individuals from not only Europe but also from around the globe to explore new opportunities. It offered direct access to employer listings, bypassed middlemen, and provided job seekers with comprehensive details about potential roles in their own languages. The features we built into the site ranged from CV writing assistance to compiling the necessary documentation for lawful employment.

    For employers, our website significantly widened their candidate pool, enabling them to seek out suitable international prospects based on the profiles within our system. Ultimately, the site’s advanced search functionality enhances the usability of the site for both companies and job seekers alike.

    Of course, the specifics of your project might differ from our case study, yet the insights gained from our experiences can surely help inform the development of your own web-based jobs platform.

    In any event, creating an online job portal is a business idea ripe with potential. The constant demand for employees drives employers to seek out the ideal candidates, while people are perpetually on the lookout for job opportunities that promise a better life.

    Therefore, your vision to create a job website akin to Indeed or Monster could evolve into a long-term, high-growth project, and recent trends clearly demonstrate the viability of such IT products.

    Firstly, the labor market is evolving at an unprecedented pace. New professions are emerging and becoming in-demand rapidly, while once-popular roles are fading into irrelevance. Lifelong learning and the ability to adapt by acquiring new skills have become necessities. 

    Secondly, the effects of globalisation have resulted in regional job markets being more interconnected than ever. Nowadays, employers can engage with job seekers across vast distances, provided they have access to thorough and accurate information about each other. 

    Indeed, it is information that has become a vital asset in all modern markets; and the labor market is absolutely no exception. Information technology has breathed new life into the job market, enabling the instantaneous processing of vast quantities of data, facilitating advanced searches for suitable candidates and companies, leading to massive time and cost savings by eliminating the need for in-person interviews and cumbersome paperwork.

    Now, let’s get into the details on how to develop a job search engine.

    Preparing to create a job search website

    Queries like how to build a website like Indeed are not rare in web development practice. When such requests come to us, we help our client structure their initial ideas, highlight practical points and identify the most necessary features.

     

    how to create a job search website

     

    It’s important to understand that job search websites come in various forms. 

    Broadly speaking, we can categorize them as follows:

    • Job Boards — These platforms are where employers post job openings. The communication initiated on a job board between the employer and the prospective candidate may continue through the platform or transition offline
    • Aggregators — These websites compile job listings and candidate profiles from various online sources. They usually operate on a simple search algorithm that pulls information from publicly available data. However, ensuring the accuracy and timeliness of the information can be challenging, and not all aggregators manage this successfully
    • Employment Platforms — Almost web assistants for job and staff searches, these websites offer a higher level of information reliability. They may even verify employers and maintain a database of candidates, removing those who have provided false information or demonstrated unprofessional behavior. Additionally, these platforms might offer services that aid in job searches and recruitment, including document preparation and facilitating communication between employers and job seekers. At their core, they rely on a robust search engine that quickly matches relevant job listings with candidate profiles
    • Professional Social Networks or Online Communities — In these networks, users share more than just job openings or resumes. They also post about their current work, educational background, skills, and professional events. These networks cater to highly skilled professionals, with LinkedIn being one of the most successful examples.

    Things become slightly more complicated when we work with clients new to the field and who only have a vague idea of the product they desire. However, our expertise in business analysis and web project management equips us in guiding these clients towards crafting a unique value proposition. Conducting a discovery phase is immensely beneficial for analyzing the market and technological landscape, and for ironing out the specifics of the new project.

    In our case study project, things were different. We were approached by a client already deeply involved in recruiting workers from Eastern and Central Europe for roles in Western and Northern European companies. Their services are highly specialized, catering to sectors such as agriculture (including seasonal jobs), construction, and other services.

    The client was well-versed in the nuances of their niche market and its potential growth. They sought not a generic platform like Indeed but rather they tasked us to develop a job search engine for their specialized sectors. 

    To achieve this, we had to transfer the client’s existing operations online. The system we developed essentially automated their business processes, a topic I’ve previously explored in depth on our blog. Moreover, this automation and the new technological capabilities we provided in fact opened up opportunities for the client to refine and enhance their business processes. 

    The job search website we developed seized upon a favorable trend: Eastern and Central Europe’s growing integration into the broader European labor market, aided by easing legal and visa constraints. Citizens from newer EU member states like Romania, or those with EU Association Agreements and a visa-free regime like Ukraine, were keen on finding employment in Western and Northern Europe. Concurrently, EU employers have long been grappling with the need for flexible workforce recruitment.

    Despite this, there was an information disconnect: hiring companies from economically strong EU countries and potential workers from Eastern and Central Europe did not have the necessary data about each other. 

    Companies in economically robust EU countries struggled to attract and recruit affordable workers, in part because these workers were using local job search platforms. Meanwhile, job seekers lacked information on how to secure employment in more affluent EU nations and were unsure about the necessary legal documentation. Language differences further complicated matters.

    Our platform bridged this information gap, enabling both employers and job seekers to connect and access vital information, filling a void left by mainstream sites like Indeed and Monster.

    My advice to startups is to begin with a specialized project aimed at a specific niche, of which there are many. Don’t rush into creating a job search website that tries to compete with established giants like Indeed or Monster, as initially, you’ll find it challenging to match these successful, recognised platforms. 

    Plus, remember that a universal job marketplace demands hefty initial investment and extended software development time. I suggest a strategy of gradual growth which prioritizes determining your monetisation strategy early; do not put this crucial consideration on the back burner.

    Let’s now look into how you can go about doing that. 

    Monetisation of a job search website

    Selecting and implementing the right monetisation strategy is crucial for the success of any online venture. When you build a job search engine, monetisation is a nuanced, strategic matter that demands seasoned expertise, precise assessment, and meticulous planning. I’ve detailed these monetisation strategies for websites and web apps in an extensive article previously.

    Most often, web employment platforms choose from the following monetisation methods: 

    • Advertising and Promotions — This includes showcasing company ads and promotions from third-party websites. Often, this is paired with paid brand promotion and affiliate marketing partnerships
    • Paid Listings — Platforms may charge employers a fee to post job listings, creating a direct revenue stream
    • Subscription Models — Offering tiered subscription plans for access to job postings and user profiles can cater to diverse segments of the market. Customizing access and service bundles according to various pricing plans can accommodate different user needs effectively.

    A distinctive aspect of our case study is the natural integration of the monetisation model with our client’s unique value proposition. The job search website we developed offers an additional paid service — the processing and preparation of employment documentation packages. 

    Users benefit from a comprehensive service that not only helps them find suitable job vacancies and communicate with potential employers but also provides them with expertly prepared, ready-to-submit documentation. 

    This «turnkey» solution is particularly valuable as it ensures documents are correctly drafted in accordance with EU and respective national legislation. Consequently, this addresses challenges such as language barriers and unfamiliarity with legal requirements, streamlining the onboarding process for foreign employees. For the bixter.work website, this monetisation approach proved to be effective, striking a balance between freely accessible information and premium paid services.

    Creating a highly profitable job search website is entirely feasible. For instance, despite its dated interface, Germany’s leading job search portal generates revenues surpassing 1 billion euros annually.

    How to build a job search engine: Consider the competitive environment

    Launching a web-based product can be make-or-break, where capturing the attention of your intended audience, boosting traffic, establishing brand recognition, and delivering an excellent user experience are of crucial importance. Stakeholder patience is finite, and there’s simply no time to waste, even early on — a scenario that might sound familiar, right? 

    With an abundance of similar projects already in operation, the threat of a startup fading into obscurity is ever-present. So, what does it take to create a job search engine that truly stands out from the crowd? Addressing this challenge must begin at the project’s inception, where technical and marketing strategy must be closely linked. A new website cannot thrive on advertising and affiliate programs alone.

    Search engine optimization is crucial for any site to draw organic traffic, prompt initial engagements and transactions, and steadily work toward achieving your intended conversion rates.Our insights were shaped by studies into market leading job search websites. We identified underserved gaps in the market and user categories that were overlooked by major platforms. By working to understand the search behaviors of these users, we positioned our service to cater to their specific needs.

    We had recognised a glaring void in search engine results for region-specific queries. For instance, the Ukrainian phrase “Work in Italy”, searched for by Ukrainian users and those in neighboring countries, yielded results dominated by local employment agencies, who serve as intermediaries. Direct job listings from employers, especially those in the applicant’s native language, were notably absent.

    Major international job portals such as Indeed and Monster do not have versions in Ukrainian, as well as many other regional languages. Moreover, in Ukraine, awareness of global job search platforms is low, and locals predominantly use domestic sites. Conversely, an employer in Italy might be at a loss when searching for a Ukrainian tractor driver or combine harvester operator online.

    We turned this situation on its head. As it turns out, it’s entirely feasible to carve out a niche for several million monthly users, even within a single country like Ukraine. Through our job search website, many job seekers have gained access to genuine job listings in various European regions, presented in their own language. This strategic targeting has proved to be our formula for success.

    By studying and painstakingly processing requests that are not covered by large existing websites, results can be achieved.  By gathering and presenting pertinent information that satisfies the diverse linguistic requirements of users in Eastern and Central Europe, you can tap into an underserved market, ripe for development. This approach can secure you a strong market presence with relatively low investment.

    We always had search engine optimisation in mind when planning our website’s architecture. For instance, we created multiple language versions of the site to cater to both job seekers and employers in our target countries, and we also tailored the site’s structure and content to align with the search patterns of our intended audience. Utilizing a variety of SEO techniques is standard practice for us as it enhances the visibility of our clients’ product. On this project, our portal quickly scaled search engine rankings as a result of our prior SEO planning, drawing in the organic traffic we were aiming for.

    Competitor analysis shaped our technical strategy too. It’s crucial to differentiate from similar web resources to stand out, yet there’s also value in learning from their missteps. Our project’s primary users are often less tech-savvy individuals, such as tractor drivers, harvesters, and general laborers who typically don’t spend much time on digital devices. A complex website, crammed with unnecessary detail and confusing navigation, will inevitably scare potential job applicants away.

    Thus, we made usability a core principle when thinking about how to create a job search website. We crafted an intuitive interface that’s simple and uncluttered, allowing job seekers to concentrate on what matters without overwhelming them. We also ensured that the site was mobile-friendly for on-the-go access.

    Providing multiple language options gave us a competitive edge after deciding how to build a job search engine. Precision in job listings and candidate profiles is key, and inaccuracies from user-generated translations can lead to serious and unwelcome issues. Not all our competitors afforded sufficient attention to this detail, allowing our site to distinguish itself from theirs.

    A job search engine development project: the main points

    Our development expertise complemented the client’s experience and knowledge of the labor market, leading to a more polished product vision. Your employment startup may have a different profile than the one we have described in this case study. With that in mind, let’s explore the potential features you might contemplate when developing a job search engine of your own. 

    Job search website functionality

     

    create a job search website

     

    Experience shows that the basic functionality of a job search website usually includes:

    • User profiles, including user contact data, education, skills, experience, and other relevant information
    • Full-fledged personal accounts (as an option), with saving of the history of interaction with your platform and the necessary files
    • Employer’s office with the possibility of integration with its internal corporate information systems
    • Job posting
    • Job search by keyword (e.g., region or city, field of specialization, job title, company, etc.)
    • CV search for employers
    • Job alerts
    • CV builder
    • Cover letter builder
    • Interview preparation
    • Career advice with access to advice articles, real-life stories, videos, and podcasts
    • Networking (communication of users with other employees in their field and finding job opportunities through their recommendations)
    • Company reviews
    • Recruiter outreach
    • Virtual career fairs
    • On-demand training
    • Personalized recommendations
    • Candidate screenings
    • An Applicant tracking system (ATS) to automate the screening process for employers
    • Interviewing.

    When it comes to enhancing your web project and fostering a positive customer experience, you should consider adding extra features. These might include:

    • Social Media Integration — Take, for instance, a job search platform targeting highly skilled professionals. Job seekers could leverage their LinkedIn profiles to interact with your site. After securing a position, they should be able to share their good news via a single click to their professional network on social media.
    • Basic Training and Streamlined Onboarding — Imagine if your website could alleviate some of the HR burdens for companies that subscribe to your service. Upon finding a new hire through your site, these employers could use your platform to introduce the new employee to training materials and company policies. This would smooth out the hiring process and highlight the pivotal role of your platform. It’s reasonable to expect that both employers and job seekers would value this convenience and return to your resource in the future.

    Regarding our case study, as I’ve previously outlined, the key feature we added for our client was a service to help prepare a comprehensive document package for new employees.

    It’s important to recognise that beyond user convenience, these services have played a significant role in building trust in the job search engine we developed. During the document preparation process, both employers and employees gained a sense of assurance of each other’s integrity and sincerity. This mutual confidence has bolstered the employment platform’s standing in the market.

    Time does not stand still, and user expectations change. It is inevitable that you will need to update the functionality of the job search website at some point. When the time comes, here are my recommendations:

    • Prioritize your search engine, after all, it’s the beating heart of your project. Consider enhancing its ability to decipher a range of inputs. Job seekers and recruiters often use colloquial language or might enter search queries with errors. Your search engine should be savvy enough to make sense of unconventional keywords or misspelled job titles.
    • Refining how you process search results can make a world of difference. Sharpen your filters to streamline the user experience, helping them save time and make choices more effortlessly.
    • Don’t overlook the power of analytics. For a job platform to stand out, it must offer recruiters tools that maximize their efficiency. Introduce advanced features for CV searching and sorting, and consider implementing an automated candidate comparison chart, which corporate users would appreciate.

    Have you thought about leveraging artificial intelligence, particularly machine learning (ML), for these enhancements? The market is increasingly abundant with pre-trained ML models ready for integration into web platforms.

    Maybe it’s time for you to think about the use of artificial intelligence technology, in particular, such a field as machine learning (ML), for the features I described above. The number of pre-trained ML models that can be integrated into the web platform is gradually increasing on the market. 

    You might also consider boosting your site’s capabilities with AI-based chatbots. For instance, integrating something like ChatGPT could enable a feature that generates personalized cover letters from a candidate’s CV and the job description, highlighting their skills and experiences that align with the vacancy. We haven’t added this feature to our job search engine yet, so if it sparks your interest, reach out to us. We’d be excited to implement it for you and add some extra flair to your project. 

    Technologies for building a job search engine

    As we often do, we collaborated with our client to assess the feasibility of implementing an off-the-shelf solution for their new product. However, the client was dissatisfied with the limited capabilities offered by the available systems on the market. We also recognized that these ready-made solutions often struggle under the high demands of website traffic and that customizing such software is frequently prohibitively expensive.

    This was precisely the case here. The pre-packaged products did not meet the client’s requirements and modifying them was, indeed, not cost-effective. Consequently, when deciding how to create a job search website, the client opted for a bespoke development by our team.

    In a previous article, I detailed the process of choosing a tech stack for web projects, emphasizing that our recommendation for clients always hinges on the product’s unique requirements. Now, let’s discuss how this approach was applied in this development of a job search engine.

    Our team is skilled in various programming languages and frameworks, so we began with a broad selection of potential technologies. By closely analyzing the features of the intended product, we refined this list. For instance, we decided against PHP for the backend, acknowledging its waning popularity.

    Taking the client’s budget and timeline constraints into account, we also ruled out Java and .NET because they would extend development time and costs. In the end, we determined Python/Django to be the most appropriate choice for the backend, a decision that proved prescient as the site effectively handles increasing traffic and operates smoothly.

    When it came to the frontend, we favored JavaScript/Vue.js instead of React or Angular. There are sometimes concerns about the difficulties of Google indexing for sites built with Vue.js. However, I believe these aren’t difficulties but rather characteristics that require expertise to manage effectively.

    By the way, it’s worth noting that search engine indexing challenges are not exclusive to Vue.js but are also relevant to other SPA frameworks like React and Angular. Experienced specialists address such issues using Server-Side Rendering (SSR), which can be employed with Vue, React, or Angular. So, if a project team blames poor website indexing on the choice of framework, it often reflects the developers’ expertise, not the technology itself.

    Our developers are adept at navigating these nuances to ensure Vue.js websites are visible and rank well on search engines, a competence we have demonstrated in numerous custom projects.

    Job search engine: project details 

    At the outset of the project, we assembled a team consisting of:

    • A project manager
    • A part-time business analyst
    • A part-time UX/UI designer
    • Two backend developers
    • Two frontend developers
    • A quality assurance engineer

    Our testing strategy was, naturally, an essential aspect of our development process. Our developers wrote unit tests for all critical functionality of the web system. Initially, we refrained from implementing automated testing due to budget constraints expressed by the client, opting instead for manual testing conducted by a skilled tester. However, we were able to incorporate automated testing into our workflow as soon as additional funds became available. From my experience, I recommend integrating automated testing from the project’s inception whenever feasible.

    We adhered to the Scrum framework, executing our plan in two-week sprints, which proved to be an effective approach. Within just four months, we developed a Minimum Viable Product (MVP). 

    Then, by adding functionality from release to release, we completed the project in its entirety in just another two months. Therefore, we had developed a job search engine from scratch in just six months.

    Conclusion

    The case study presented in this article exemplifies how our client’s in-depth understanding of the recruitment business, combined with our web development company’s technical prowess, resulted in a successful product launch. By meticulously identifying a market niche and working to understand our target audience’s needs, we were able to supplement the inherent value of our client’s services through rapid and efficient development.

    You should now have a robust understanding of how to build a job search engine from scratch. This knowledge will prove invaluable when you come to define the features of your new products. If you’re about to embark on a project like this, contact us. We’re here to ensure your concept comes to successful fruition. 

    Author
    Mykyta Semenov
    CEO, SECL Group
    The CEO of a software development company called «SECL Group». Extensive experience in web development since 2002. An author of numerous studies and articles, a speaker at industry conferences, and an independent consultant for commercial companies and government agencies.

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