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Nathan Brunner on Crafting a Niche in Low-Competition Jobs

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Esther is a business strategist with over 20 years of experience as an entrepreneur, executive, educator, and management advisor.

Nathan Brunner on Crafting a Niche in Low-Competition Jobs

In this interview, we sit down with Nathan Brunner, the visionary entrepreneur behind Salarship, an innovative job board known for its unique focus on low-competition job opportunities. As the driving force of a platform that’s reshaping the way job seekers and employers connect, Nathan shares insights into the challenges and triumphs of building a successful online job marketplace.

Join us as Nathan delves into the strategies, inspirations, and future aspirations that make Salarship a standout in the competitive world of job boards.

Vision and Strategy

SBS – What inspired you to start Salarship, and how do you differentiate your platform in the competitive job board market?

Nathan – I started Salarship while I was still studying for my master’s in mathematics. It was initially a blog where I gave students money-making tips.

On this blog, I wrote a blog post about the best dog-walking apps to make money. This content gained traction, and soon enough, Rover contacted me to advertise their dog-walking platform as part of an affiliate deal.

I quickly understood that they struggled to hire dog walkers and that there was an opportunity for a job board to advertise jobs that didn’t have a large marketing budget.

I had some initial success with my content marketing approach, but I soon realized that the job board market was highly competitive. In my opinion, it’s even more competitive than most e-commerce niches because we are in direct competition with billion-dollar companies like Indeed or LinkedIn.

But, as in Judo, entrepreneurs can use their competitors’ strengths against themselves.

The Achilles’ heel of these big tech companies is that they must generate substantial revenues to pay thousands of employees while generating profits for their shareholders. In other words, they have no choice but to flood the job market with the same high marketing-budget jobs.

This is very frustrating for job seekers who end up applying for the same positions only to receive one rejection after another.

This is how I came up with the idea of transforming Salarship into a job board focusing on under-marketed jobs, allowing job seekers to explore these hidden low-competition career opportunities.

Job Opportunities

SBS – How do you identify and curate low-competition job opportunities?

Nathan – We get most of our job postings from feeds sent by job ad exchanges and applicant tracking systems (ATS). These feeds usually provide information about job postings’ availability and budget, allowing us to identify hidden gems in the job market.

We also receive job postings from direct employers. In this case, we ask them to provide the current number of submitted applications for each job posting in the feed.

We are also experimenting with employer website scrapping. Still, it is challenging to get it right as we have little information about the supply side, and it uses a lot of crawling resources to detect when the job postings expire.

Target Audience

SBS – Who is your primary target audience?

Nathan – Because Salarship started as a blog about money-making tips for students, our job seekers are younger than on other platforms. However, we aim to expand our target audience to all ages.

Business Model

SBS – Could you explain your business model and how Salarship generates revenue?

Nathan – We have contracts with applicant tracking systems, job ad exchanges, and other job boards.

Depending on the contract, we get paid each time a candidate applies for a job (CPA) or each time a candidate clicks on a job ad (CPC).

Technology and Innovation

SBS – What role does technology play in your platform, and are there any innovative features that set Salarship apart?

Nathan – Salarship is a product-focused startup, not a technology company.

This is why we don’t invest time or money in creating proprietary technologies. Instead, we use the open-source softwares such as:

  • ElasticSearch, which is used to index job postings, handle search-related queries, and rank job postings
  • Redis, which we use for memory cache and other performance optimizations
  • WordPress, which we use as our content management system to publish blog posts and other types of content

When founding a tech company, there is no need to reinvent the wheel if open-source technologies can easily be integrated into the project.

Don’t get me wrong, we still need some custom code here and there to tie these different technologies together, fine-tune their usage, or extract data from job postings, but 95% of our code base comes from these three open-source technologies.

Marketing Tactics

SBS – What marketing strategies have been most effective in attracting both employers and job seekers to your platform?

Nathan – Content marketing is currently our main traffic source, but we are in the process of shifting towards more advertising traffic.

Still, organic traffic is free, and competing with that is hard!

We have published a few hundred blog posts to get traffic to our platform from search engines. We have an excellent conversion rate from “job ideas” articles, such as Best Jobs to Make $500k per Year or Best Jobs for INFJ Personality Types.

Challenges Faced

SBS – What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced in establishing and growing Salarship, and how have you overcome them?

Nathan – Google penalized us with their recent “helpful content” algorithm update.

We still get decent traffic from Bing and other search engines, but losing Google’s organic traffic is a tough pill to swallow.

It’s also very frustrating because Google has a quasi-monopoly with its search engine, and there is no clear way or blueprint to lift this penalty.

In the meantime, we are spending less on content creation and more on paid advertising.

User Experience

SBS – How do you ensure a user-friendly experience for both job seekers and employers on your platform?

Nathan – Most job seekers have to deal with information overload when searching for jobs.

This is why we try to keep our job search process as simple as possible.

We are minimalists at heart when it comes to design and job search functionalities. Instead of displaying the full job description, we provide a well-crafted summary that lets job seekers quickly grasp the essential details, such as job requirements, qualifications, and responsibilities.

Feedback and Adaptation

SBS – How do you incorporate user feedback into your platform’s evolution?

Nathan – We have a “report job posting” feature at the bottom of our job posting pages (see an example here).

These pages are not accessible directly via our search feature, but we still use them for advertising purposes.

We currently don’t have enough volume to evaluate individual job postings. However, we still use this feedback to assess the quality of employers and job feeds, provided that they send a few hundred job postings per month.

Growth and Scaling

SBS – What are your plans for scaling and growing Salarship in the future?

Nathan – We are currently only available in the US.

We have some organic traffic from other English-speaking countries, such as Canada or the United Kingdom, so we discussed expanding our service to these countries

However, we concluded that we would need more funding to take the plunge. Expanding to these countries would only shift our focus away from the US market.

We still have a lot of growth margin in the US and plan to invest more in content marketing, advertising, and employer outreach.

Industry Trends

SBS – How do you stay abreast of industry trends and ensure your platform remains relevant and competitive?

Nathan – The latest advancements in artificial intelligence have opened up many exciting opportunities for new entrepreneurs in the employment niche.

For example, some competitors have built job search plugins on ChatGPT or used large language models to build resume generators.

Unfortunately, we have limited resources, and we can’t chase these exciting opportunities. We need to remain focused on improving our service.

We are far from perfect, so I would like to make sure we create an exceptional product before considering other opportunities.

We are currently working on improving our job summarizer, expanding our company logo database, and creating a job alert system.

Partnerships and Collaborations

SBS – Can you talk about any significant partnerships or collaborations that have been pivotal to Salarship’s success?

Nathan – Our first three partnerships with Uber, DoorDash, and Rover were pivotal for our initial success.

These gig-economy companies allowed us to backfill Salarship with jobs and start earning some revenue.

Once we scaled our traffic, we gained access to more job feeds and made deals with major job ad exchanges and applicant tracking systems.

Advice for Entrepreneurs

SBS – What advice would you give to entrepreneurs looking to start a business in the online job board or HR-tech space?

Nathan – The employment market is huge, and there are a lot of opportunities for creative thinkers!

Even though it is almost impossible to compete with Indeed or LinkedIn, small players can still make some profits if they dare to adopt a new approach or try to conquer a niche, such as jobs for physicians, jobs in the transportation industry, etc.

Also, you will need to be patient. I know from first-hand experience that it’s extremely difficult to achieve any kind of success at the beginning. Job boards and HR tech startups typically benefit from a networking effect that will make your journey a little easier once you reach a certain scale.

Future Vision

SBS – Where do you see Salarship in the next five years, and what long-term goals are you aiming to achieve?

Nathan – I really like this job, so I hope we will still be active in five years.

I would be delighted if we could consolidate our position in the United States and expand to other countries.


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Nathan Brunner on Crafting a Niche in Low-Competition Jobs