.Jobs Expansion Program Includes RFP, Auction Sale of Names

The expansion of the .jobs Internet address has been given the go-ahead by the Society for Human Resource Management, paving the way for the launch of what could be hundreds of thousands of new job boards. SHRM made the announcement this morning.

While the 7-1 vote by the SHRM advisory group and the subsequent ratification by SHRM’s executive committee are crucial milestones, the ultimate decision is up to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers.

ICANN, as it is known, is the Internet’s addressing authority. Yesterday, it received the paperwork beginning the formal process to expand the .jobs usage. Submitted by Employ Media, SHRM’s partner in the .jobs program, the proposal says Employ Media intends to make new .jobs names available through a three-step process:

  1. “Request for Proposals (RFP) to invite interested parties to propose specific plans for registration, use, and promotion of domains that are not their company name;
  2. By auction round that offers domains not allocated through the RFP process; and
  3. A first-come, first-served real-time release of any domains not registered through the RFP or auction processes.”

The ICANN process includes a 30-day public comment period. It won’t begin for about two weeks. Then the ICANN board will consider the proposed changes. The soonest that can happen is August 5.

ICANN is the organization that in 2005 approved the request by SHRM and Employ Media to create the .jobs domain in the first place. The agreement between Employ Media and ICANN specifies that .jobs addresses can only be issued with company names.

Now, Employ Media wants to broaden the use of .jobs so it can be used in conjunction with  geographic, occupational, geo-occupational, and other non-company names.

Last year Bill Warren, executive director of the DirectEmployers Association, pitched a plan to create highly focused employment sites using geographic, occupational, and combinations of them. By last fall, the first of these had their beta launch.

Many more were planned. In interviews and in posts on a site created to promote the job boards, DirectEmployers said it intended to launch tens of thousands — even a million — of these job boards. Jobs would be posted automatically to these boards from JobCentral, the job board run by the organization.

The program was put on hiatus after ICANN sent letters to Employ Media and SHRM objecting to the expansion of the .jobs naming convention without following the process outlined in the 2005 agreement. It was then that SHRM appointed a nine-member council to consider the plan, which was formally explained in Employ Media’s March proposal.

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How the plan to request proposals for the use of a newly expanded .jobs naming system will affect the DirectEmployers program isn’t known. Presumably the organization will have the inside track. However, Employ Media told ICANN in yesterday’s filing that:

“Plans will be evaluated by Employ Media for compliance with the .JOBS Charter; compliance with other policies, practices and business rules which govern .JOBS, as applicable; impact on the Community; compliance with ICANN requirements, as applicable; quality and innovation; the nature and strength of the applicant and/or any named partners; the effect, if any, on SHRM; and the ability of the plan to deliver as set forth, including business and technical capabilities of any relevant parties.”

Today’s announcement of the results of the SHRM vote last week didn’t detail the vote, nor say who the dissenter was. One member of the nine-person council was either absent or didn’t vote.  It’s not known whether the minutes will clarify the vote when they are eventually posted.

According to the SHRM announcement, among the factors considered by the council in deciding to approve the .jobs expansion were a survey and private comments. Comments were collected anonymously and not made available publicly. The survey was released as part of the SHRM announcement.

Two-thirds of the  262 respondents to the survey said they believed the proposed additions to the .jobs domain would make it “more useful” or “significantly more useful.” They were less convinced of its usefulness when compared to other recruiting tools they use. Thirty-six percent reported it would be “very” or Extremely useful.”

The association’s current president, Rhonda Stickley, is a member of the SHRM council.

John Zappe is the editor of TLNT.com and a contributing editor of ERE.net. John was a newspaper reporter and editor until his geek gene lead him to launch his first website in 1994. He developed and managed online newspaper employment sites and sold advertising services to recruiters and employers. Before joining ERE Media in 2006, John was a senior consultant and analyst with Advanced Interactive Media and previously was Vice President of Digital Media for the Los Angeles Newspaper Group.

Besides writing for ERE, John consults with staffing firms and employment agencies, providing content and managing their social media programs. He also works with organizations and businesses to assist with audience development and marketing. In his spare time  he can be found hiking in the California mountains or competing in canine agility and obedience competitions.

You can contact him here.

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13 Comments on “.Jobs Expansion Program Includes RFP, Auction Sale of Names

  1. Nice job keeping us informed John. Few folks are really going to watch this and fewer believe, like myself, in its potential but I’m quite pleased with the ‘stated’ next steps.

    I predict that 5 years [perhaps sooner] from now lots of people, now suddenly interested, will be searching the history of .jobs and wonder why they missed it.

  2. John,

    Like Gerry I applaud your coverage of this issue. Most people, including HR professionals and job board owners, do not realize what is about to happen.

    But unlike Gerry, I think this move by SHRM & EmployMedia is a serious error. This violation of the ICANN charter will be very damaging for the following reasons:

    1. What SHRM/EmployMedia are doing directly violates the charter from ICANN which only authorizes EmployMedia to sell .jobs sub-domains to actual employers and only for their own job openings. The proposed change is in direct violation of the ICANN charter. There was a solid reason for limiting the use of .jobs and it should NOT be violated.

    2. What happens if every top level domain (TLD) decides to violate their ICANN charter in the way SHRM/EmployMedia are proposing to do? The internet would be flooded with millions of sites causing massive confusion for both employers/HR and candidates. Bill Warren in your articles sys there will be over a million sites. That is total confusion.

    3. Contrary to what Bill Warren has written, VetJobs is concerned that the proposed move by SHRM/EmployMedia would make it even more difficult for transitioning military, wounded warriors, veterans and their family members to locate well established job boards that have long focused on serving the military market. These sites have demonstrated that they understand and respect the unique culture and needs of veterans, something a mechanical array of tens of thousands of sub-domains proposed by EmployMedia could never match. The established sites have over the years earned the respect of veterans and veteran service organizations by providing the military related users with effective employment resources and support. This move by SHRM/EmployMedia will directly hinder the men and women who have served our country so well. The members of our military deserve better treatment than what SHRM/EmployMedia proposes.

    4. This move by SHRM/EmployMedia would make employers susceptible to price gouging. While employers would theoretically be able to post their jobs for free on .jobs sites, the volume of such postings would virtually require that they purchase featured listings or other premium services, which only Employ Media would be authorized to sell.

    5. This move by SHRM/EmployMedia would undermine the investment employers have made in their corporate career sites. Millions of employers now rely on their own corporate career sites to connect with job seekers. Many have invested heavily in optimizing those sites for search engines. Indeed, in an era of constrained resources, relying on search engine results is now a primary method of attracting job seekers. By pouring tens of thousands of new .jobs sites into the market, Employ Media will diminish if not destroy the effectiveness of that outreach effort.

    6. This move by SHRM/EmployMedia will create a monopolistic pricing situation for Employ Media in the marketplace for featured job postings and other premium services on .jobs sites

    7. This move by SHRM/EmployMedia will flood the Internet with .jobs sub-domains that undermine the value of the licenses purchased in good faith by employers under the current terms of the .jobs charter; and

    8. This move by SHRM/EmployMedia will clog search engine results and thereby pervert the efforts of employers to raise the search engine ranking of their own corporate career sites and make it more difficult for candidates to find jobs.

    I personally view this move by Bill Warren and EmployMedia as an attempt to create a monopoly, which goes against the grain of our free market economy and what SHRM has stood for over the decades. As a long time member of SHRM, I am concerned about their willingness to assist Bill Warren in creating a monopoly that will affect the entire human resource community.

    I encourage all readers to file complaints with SHRM and ICANN. This is a dangerous move.

    Ted Daywalt
    CEO & President
    VetJobs

  3. I guess my views are somewhere between Gerry’s and Ted’s in that I am pleased that the process has become somewhat more transparent than the smoke filled, back room process that dominated earlier on but I’m still very troubled by SHRM washing its hands of the situation and handing over control of the .jobs domains to one organization without any significant, transparent discussion.

    The survey, for example, was pretty laughable and obviously designed to create soundbites like two thirds in favor because the questions asked were created to just about force people to give approving answers.

    At the end of the day, SHRM has proven that it should never have been given a role in this process. It does many, many things well but playing Internet domain gatekeeper just doesn’t line up with its strengths. The reason that SHRM was given such an important role is that it is arguably the best representative of recruiters in the country so would be best equipped to make sure that microsoft.jobs went only to Microsoft and walmart.jobs went only to Walmart. But now SHRM is walking away from this mess and handing it over to a non-profit owned by a for-profit (or is it the other way around?) that competes with every other job board out there and clearly has revenue and profit generation in mind yet either can’t or won’t share its plans.

    Why not just kill the .jobs domains? If Bill Warren and crew feel that would be a mistake, then clearly the domains have commercial value. And if they do have commercial value, then why are they being handed over to one organization to do with them as they please? And why Bill’s organization versus Monster, Careerbuilder, Dice, or any other job board?

  4. Ted has raised some valid points on this complicated issue. I’d like to build on his comments with what I predict will be huge gaps in the ever-increasing focus on “candidate fit.” As it is right now, employers are under siege from people so desperate to find jobs that they often mass-distribute their resumes willy-nilly. Recruiters grouse about it all the time, and with good reason.

    Add dot-jobs to the equation, and that scenario will become a train wreck. The direct by-pass of carefully crafted content on employers’ careers site will not only bring more unqualified candidates, they will also be completely uninformed about the cultural aspects of the companies to which they are applying. In other words, the concept of “candidate fit,” which requires some level of understanding from both employers and job seekers, will be even harder to achieve. The addition of millions of job sites will make recruiting even more difficult and frustrating for human resource departments.

    Unlike some people I know, I seriously doubt that currently established and respected job boards will experience any real hit in their revenues from this “free” offering. But I do believe that this move will create havoc for already swamped recruiters, and more so, will dilute many employers’ efforts to use strategic branding as a competitive advantage in attracting top talent.

    Carol Barber, Founder & Managing Partner
    Encore TalentWorkx

  5. To add some context to this, the best estimate that I’ve seen is that there are some 50,000 job boards in the U.S. and another 50,000 elsewhere for a total of 100,000. So what Employ Media is talking about doing is creating an additional 10 times as many job boards as currently exist. How that can be in the best interest of any employer or any job seeker is beyond me.

  6. I wonder how often the average job seeker knows or cares that they’ve tripped into a .jobs domain? I think advertising and content as well as features is going to reign supreme as we move forward..you can have 10,000 more job boards but if they don’t take advantage of advertising like Monster, will it matter that a few hundred people visit them a month?

    Depending on the search engine you use you can locate anywhere from 50,000 to 240,000 pages with a .jobs domain. Considering there are billions of pages online, seems like we are literally at the tip of the iceberg.

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