“Tens of Thousands” of New Dot-Jobs Boards Coming

dot jobs bostonIn a joint venture with the manager of the .jobs domain, DirectEmployers has launched the first of what might become tens of thousands of new geographically and occupationally focused job boards all sharing a .jobs extension.

The new sites, identical in design and structure, made their appearance earlier this month. Among them are Atlanta.jobs, Boston.jobs, Mexico.jobs, and India.jobs.

“We just started pushing them out,” says Chad Sowash, VP of business development for DirectEmployers, a non-profit HR consortium, that has recruiting as its focus. Among its services is the Job Central job board, to which members can post jobs without additional fee.

“It’s a new playing field,” Sowash adds. “What this is going to do is allow thousands more, perhaps tens of thousands more” sites where job seekers can look for jobs.

Assuming job seekers ever become aware of the existence of a domain offering only jobs and career information, then those looking for opportunities in a specific geography — Atlanta, for example — need only enter that area and the extension .jobs. Those looking for an occupation-specific opportunity enter the title and the .jobs extension.

Direct EmployersMembers of the DirectEmployers consortium can request the creation of any site name they think will be of benefit, said Sowash, suggesting an oil company might want to use  refinery.jobs for its openings.

“It won’t belong to any company, but if a company wants us to offer a name, we can. The registrar isn’t selling these domains. They still have them,” Sowash explained. “We can light up every combination someone can think of.”

Tom Embrescia, CEO of Employ Media, the administrator and manager — registrar, in Internet parlance — of the .jobs domain, said the venture with DirectEmployers is a “great way to see what the world wants.”

The domain — technically a sponsored top-level domain — was pitched to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) by Employ Media and its partner the Society for Human Resource Management. The proposal, approved in 2005, argued that a .jobs extension would make it easy for job seekers to find the career site of individual companies and would provide a modicum of protection against scam job postings.

Companies could only get a .jobs address by using the company name and by pledging to adhere to the SHRM code of ethics.

Although about 15,000 companies signed up for the .jobs address, job seekers are largely unaware of its existence. As a consequence, most .jobs addresses get little traffic.

Building sites on the “reserved” occupational and geographic addresses, says Embrescia, is a marketing experiment. “It’s a beta test,” he says, explaining later in the conversation, “We need to build consumer awareness that these (addresses) exist.”

Besides providing the technology to power the job boards, DirectEmployers’ dozens of Fortune 500 and 1000 members will be encouraged to promote them. “Now I’ve got Fortune 1000 companies working,” Embrescia beamed.

Besides members of DirectEmployers, other firms with a .jobs domain address will also be able to post their jobs to the new sites.

For member companies posting jobs to Job Central, the additional placement on geographic and occupational sites will be automatic, Sowash told me. They are also likely to get a premium posting position.

Non-members, who own a .jobs address, might have to post their jobs manually or pay a fee for automation.

Others who want to post to these sites might have to pay a posting fee, or have some other limitation.

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“The rules haven’t been hammered out,” says Sowash. There’s also a 40-company advisory group providing input on site names, practices, and feedback on the design and functionality of the job boards, which, Sowash is quick to point out, don’t look like job boards. “These are not going to look like your father’s job board,” he vows.

I asked Sowash whether he and DirectEmployers expected push back or opposition to its exclusive deal with Employ Media. “Yeah,” he acknowledged, “we’ll probably hear from some people who are not too happy.” But he didn’t anticipate resistance from the job boards, most of whom are struggling in the economy and couldn’t take on a project of this magnitude.

Bob Etheridge, a co-founder of JobCircle and a former VP of another job board, GettheJob, says he suspects “job board owners are walking the fence, trying to determine are they friends or are they foes.”

There’s suspicion now that Employ Media is not only a names registrar, but “they are getting in the publisher business.”

Those quoted here and others who talked with me either for background or anonymously all supported DirectEmployers for its aggressiveness and initiative.

DirectEmployers approached Employ Media with a proposal almost a year ago, but Embrescia said he wasn’t ready then. Conversation resumed about the time Embrescia publicly floated the idea of selling off the reserved names.

“They had a good plan and when we were ready we talked with them,” Employ Media’s Embrescia said. Their facility with the technology, flexibility, and non-profit status, and their enthusiasm were convincing factors.

Still, a top executive with a leading job board who asked not to be named, said he initially was upset over the lack of openness in the process of developing the joint venture. Now, though, he doubts the new sites will do anything more than simply add to the already cluttered job board environment.

Coming at it from a different perspective, Gerry Crispin, CareerXroads co-founder and a leading recruitment consultant, complained that the latest turn means an end to “the embedded, implied promise” that all the jobs on a .jobs site would be legitimate and are those of the company whose name appeared before the extension.

“It no longer has the same aspirational goals,” laments Crispin, a member of the original SHRM advisory group that supported the .jobs creation. “It’s still milk, but there’s no guarantee it’s pasteurized.”

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.


15 Comments on ““Tens of Thousands” of New Dot-Jobs Boards Coming

  1. This is a strange turn of events for the .jobs domain. I was hopeful the domain would be opened up to the industry at large. There are other job board owners who could’ve put it to good use.

    I’m also not sure if employers have any incentive to “promote” these sites since they are already busy trying to promote their own career pages. This idea simply seems to be a experiment to get search engine traffic. But if no one links to these sites, search traffic will be hard to come by. And as any job board owner knows you have to market yourself to get traffic.

    The consensus of the job board industry lately is that there are “too many” sites so this deal doesn’t seem to help that perception.

    However it would have been nice if other job board owners were invited to the party.

  2. having spent the last couple of years building a network with some similarities, I would add that making this work will probably be the most difficult project jobcentral has ever taken on. that is, if it’s to really change the playing field.

    jobcentral and .jobs seem to have done a nice job of aligning their interests. it will be interesting to see if it makes enough sense to the other constituencies and, if it does, whether it can hold over a sustained period of time.

  3. “… I would add that making this work will probably be the most difficult project…”

    I laughed when I read this as it reminded me of all the start-and-stop projects, blogs, websites, twitter accounts – all the stuff related to social media that gets started these days in heated rushes and then abandoned as the ardor cools and the next shiny object catches their attention. Know what I mean?

    Starting something MEANS NOTHING if you can’t keep at it and this is the fatal flaw in many if not most of these start and stop “good ideas”. Recruiting Animal is having a “Wherever In the World Did They Go?” show at the end of the year to highlight some of these phenomena. I hope you watch for it. I am.

    (By the way, I wish DirectEmployers the BEST of luck. I just ask you keep showin’ us what you got.)


  4. This is a travesty. I’ve got nothing against DirectEmployers or the others involved. They’re trying to turn spoiled milk into cheese and I wish them all the best in that effort, but the rules under which .jobs was created were either poorly drafted or haven’t been followed. This new domain was promoted as only being available to employers to promote their own jobs. Clearly that hasn’t been the case. In the name of the almighty buck, those whose finances were negatively impacted by that failure to execute have now turned to plan B and they should be ashamed of themselves.

    It may be counter intuitive to some, but as a job board owner I don’t really care about yet another network of cookie cutter sites popping up. There are number of them out there already and the impact they have on our business is negligible. Collectively they attract some job seeker traffic and a few postings here and there, but individually they have no impact whatsoever in a world with 100,000 job boards already.

  5. the real travesty is ICANN. they follow the money while posing as a nonprofit or governmental organization. but then that’s par for the course for many of the nonprofits i’ve watched anyhow.

    ICANN is the one that legitimized .jobs with no intention of monitoring or enforcing the agreements… and in light of the new tlds coming, it’s clear they would have liked to approve .jobs without any limitations in the first place.

  6. I agree with Maureen – I can’t even begin to count the number of ‘earth shattering’ changes I’ve seen come and go with little or no effect. And Steve is right, too – I don’t perceive these as a threat to job boards. It’s all about the job seekers: will they even be aware of these sites? Will they even care? Like Chris said, it will take some marketing firepower to make them know about the sites. Kind of nutty, really.

  7. “But he didn’t anticipate resistance from the job boards, most of whom are struggling in the economy and couldn’t take on a project of this magnitude.”

    The notion that some company that no one has ever heard of is the only company in the world that can handle doing something simple as setting up a database to hold jobs and then display them on a different domain based on geographical input is ludicrous. You’re talking about a 3 month project here that could be done for < $50,000. Why is this blown out of proportion? If you're trying to rationalize backdoor dealings that eliminate competition by claiming to be the only company capable of handling a project that most SME companies could take with no problem, you're really reaching for straws.

    This whole thing is shady and ICANN should be ashamed of themselves for allowing it to happen.

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