What Are Job Aggregators: Interview With Cornel Mueller (Part 1)

by Etienne Besson on 20 July 2012

in HR Tools,Interview,Recruitment

This is part 1 of my interview with Cornel Mueller, co-founder of the job search engine Jobagent. In this part we cover the basics: what are job aggregators and job search engines, what is the big difference to a job board?

In part 2 of the interview I’ll ask Cornel how well he sleeps at night and what the biggest change will be for recruitment during the next years.

Most people are familiar with job boards. But what is a job aggregator?

Cornel: Generally speaking, a job aggregator is the sum of all (relevant) job boards. This means that the job aggregator collects job ads from as many job boards as possible and arranges them into one larger job site. This process is called crawling or spidering of job boards (and/or other websites).

I read about job crawlers, spiders, aggregators and in German we also use the expression job search engines (Jobsuchmaschinen). Is this all the same or are there differences?

Job aggregators and search engines are similar in a way since they all rely on job crawling or spidering of some sort to retrieve the job ads from other websites and post them on their own website. However, there is a fundamental difference in the sources being used for this process. For example: job aggregators usually include job boards in their search, where as job search engines usually exclude them and try to find job ads on company websites instead.

The advantage of crawling job boards instead of websites clearly lies in the relatively simple process of gathering a huge number of job ads. Many job aggregators indeed try to attract job seekers with giant numbers of job ads. Yet, in my opinion there is a clear disadvantage to using job boards as a source.

Since many companies publish their job ads on more than one job board there are several job ads appearing more than once in the crawled data. This can be frustrating and confusing for the users. In theory, a job aggregator should be checking for doubles but I’m afraid that is rarely done properly.

The situation of job search engines is a bit different. It is harder to collect big numbers of job ads since they need to be located and retrieved from websites somewhere on the Internet and cannot simply be taken off a few job boards. However, this approach almost automatically prevents double entries since it has only one source for every job ad.

 And in order to clarify it once and for all: what is the one big difference between a job board and a job aggregator?

A job board does not include any kind of crawling or spidering. The job ads on job boards are actively posted there by companies and recruitment agencies (many times for a fee) in order to advertise certain open positions. Very few companies publish all their job ads on job boards. Most choose only a few job ads for positions that are important or need to be filled urgently. Consequently, the number of job ads on job boards is relatively small and only captures a part of the overall online job market.

The situation is quite different for job aggregators. Aggregators publish only the job ads that are already available on the internet. Most of them collect job ads from job boards and/or directly from the company websites. Since even the companies that do not publish their open positions on job boards do post them on their own website, the number of job ads the aggregator finds on the Internet is naturally much higher than the number of job ads on a job board.

I’m convinced that in the future job seekers will want to know much more about a potential employer. Not just the standard job ad info, but also what kind of people work there or what the company culture is. Today aggregators republish the mostly standard (and boring) job ads. Could aggregators play a role in providing candidates with real information?

I agree that job seekers will no be satisfied with the short standardized bit of information about a potential employer that is part of most job ads today. They not only need more information they also need information that is relevant to them as future employees. Such information is usually found on the employer’s website and many times only there (although I should add that not all employer websites provide helpful information).

Job aggregators can create additional value for candidates by leading them directly to the recruitment website of a potential employer.


Cornel Mueller (@jobagent) is the co-founder of X28, the company that created and runs Switzerland’s biggest job search engine jobagent.ch.

Furthermore, Cornel will also be present at the very first HR TweetUp Zurich on Tuesday, 24 July 2012 (event to be held in German).


Check out part 2 of the interview with Cornel Mueller. I ask him about copyright issues, the future of recruitment and why Evenbase would buy a job aggregator.

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