Monday, 31 January 2011

Aggregators: What’s on offer?

Aggregator sites are a method of job hunting that I’ve found fairly frustrating. A single job may be advertised by multiple agencies, across multiple sites, often multiple times per week so it appears near the top of a job board. Then along comes the aggregator which collects up all these postings like some kind of fishing trawler and dumps them in one place – resulting in what looks like hundreds of jobs but is in fact a mass of duplicates that need to be sifted through.

The supposed advantage of aggregators is that because they source from a wide range of sites (including individual companies and their own listings), the job hunter only needs to search once rather than visiting lots of individual sites. However, different aggregators fish in different pools: has a high proportion of jobs from; covers, and; whereas has a little bit of everything (this will be examined in more detail in another post, and thanks to Charlie for flagging these sites)

Love ‘em or hate ‘em though – aggregators are another tool in the job searching arsenal, so that can only be a good thing.

For a snapshot of what’s on offer, I ran two searches: 1) all “chemistry” jobs posted in the last week at jobisjob; and 2) a selection of “chemist” jobs posted in the last week at simplyhired.

Of the 640 jobs listed, almost 20% were for teachers, but only 11% were for a “traditional” lab chemist role (mainly organic chemistry). There were also high hit rates for experienced executives/managers (10%) and at the other end of the pay scale, lab technicians (8%). While some of the categories are skewed by duplicate adverts (I must have read about a dozen variations for a single semiconductor position), it appears the in-demand jobs are in sales/tech support and analytical chemistry. Encouragingly, there is still a lot of variety for those looking at a change in career while remaining in the sector, with some demand for regulatory, EHS, chemical sourcing, and further afield, instrumentation and software.

The more focussed “chemist” search categorised 160 jobs from the last week. The good news was that over 80% were for permanent positions, even in the current climate; and synthetic chemists appear well represented with around 60 positions advertised. However, given the comprehensive nature of the aggregator sites, this either means there aren’t many jobs for chemists being advertised in the UK, or they’re not being exposed by these sites. And that’s a topic for another post.

In the meantime, here are my top aggregator tips:

1) Think carefully what you’re searching for. “Chemist” will return a more focussed hitset if you want a specific role; but “Chemistry” may return jobs you may not have considered

2) Use the site’s advanced search to increase the number of jobs/page from 10 to something useful to avoid endless clicking. If their maximum isn’t high enough, select it then modify the appropriate number in the address bar url

3) If you’re overwhelmed by teachers, analysts, managers and sales in your results, you may be able to block these in the advanced search settings

4) Don’t forget to order the results by date, and go for 7-14 days as an upper limit. Any longer and there’s a higher probability of links being broken and reading duplicate adverts causing you to throw your monitor out the window.

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