A “Universe” Of .Jobs Job Boards Is Set To Launch

Dot jobs UniverseWhen Chad Sowash said tens of thousands of new jobs sites were on their way, he wasn’t kidding. Millions of new job boards is the goal, says a new website from DirectEmployers and Employ Media, the registrar and driving force behind the .jobs addresses.

“Soon hundreds of thousands (and, eventually, millions) of geographical .jobs domain names will come online,” boasts the website, Universe.jobs. It’s home base for what the partners are calling The Dot Jobs Universe, a heady name for the job boards that will officially make their debut in January.

These boards are powered by the DirectEmployers Association, a recruitment focused consortium of employers that includes many of the top brands in the U.S.  The job boards will have occupational or geographic Web addresses or addresses that are a combination of the two.

Some of these are already launched. There’s NewYork.jobs, Boston.jobs, India.jobs, and more. A video on the Dot Jobs Universe site offers other possibilities; FloridaNursing.jobs, for instance.

Employers who are members of the DirectEmployers Association will have their jobs posted to these sites automatically, with their corporate logo, at no cost. Non-members who own a .jobs address will also be permitted to post jobs for free.

There’s no indication on the site of what happens to employers who are neither members of DirectEmployers nor holders of a .jobs address.

When I spoke with Sowash a few weeks ago, he said they might have to pay a posting fee or have some limitations. “The rules haven’t been hammered out,” he said then.

However, the partners are selling premium placements on the sites. At rates ranging from $1,500 to $5,000 an employer can buy a listing position for a year on one or more sites. The more sites you buy, the lower the per site cost.

PlacementPlacement.jobs explains how it works and takes your order. Members of DirectEmployers get preference in ordering these premium positions. A webinar is scheduled Nov. 17th to detail the .jobs Universe and the premium positioning program.

The relationship between DirectEmployers and Employ Media has raised eyebrows and apparently prompted enough questions that Ray Fassett, VP of operations and policy with Employ Media, felt compelled to blog about it.

“Why has .jobs chosen DirectEmployers Association to lead this project?,” Fassett writes in a blog on the Dot Jobs Universe site. “By offering an answer to this question publicly, I think I can dispel some myths that have come to my attention from commentators in other forums.”

“Let me be clear that .jobs has not provided the DirectEmployers Association with an exclusive. .jobs has not provided DirectEmployers members with an exclusive. So let’s dispel these myths right out of the gate.”

Fassett goes on to list six points that apparently made DirectEmployers an attractive partner. These include its non-profit status, the quality of the management team, its board of directors, and the participation of Fortune 1000 companies.

The argument that there’s no exclusive seems weak, if not plain wrong. Rules on the Employ Media site itself say only company names can be registered; occupational and geographic names are “reserved.” While DirectEmployers doesn’t own the addresses for the new job boards, it manages them, collects the money, and provides special opportunities for its members.

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There’s no evidence that other job boards or organizations were invited to offer proposals for making use of the occupational and geographical domains held by Employ Media. Indeed, there’s even some question whether they can be used at all.

Tom Embrescia, CEO of Employ Media, told me that DirectEmployers approached him with the idea for the universe of job boards. The conversation turned earnest about the time Embrescia publicly floated the idea of selling off the reserved names.

When Employ Media and the Society for Human Resource Management, which sponsored the domain, applied for the designation, they said a .jobs address would only be issued in the name of the requesting company. That condition — and others, including adherence to the SHRM code of ethics — was written in the agreement by the approving agency, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers.

Steve Rothberg, founder and president of CollegeRecruiter, wrote in a post, “This new domain was promoted as only being available to employers to promote their own jobs. Clearly that hasn’t been the case.”

However, Gary Rubin, SHRM’s Chief Publishing and E-Media Officer, said in an email, “SHRM is responsible for ensuring that Employ Media is complying with the terms of their charter with ICANN… The names that you have cited such as atlanta.jobs and sales.jobs appear to be in compliance with the terms of the charter.”

ICANN’s Chief gTLD Registry Liaison Craig Schwartz told me in an email, “…it’s not possible for ICANN to police every name in every registry and more importantly it’s not our responsibility to do so. What ICANN is responsible for is to ensure that its contracted parties are in compliance with their agreements. To that end, I will be following up on your inquiry (about the appropriateness of the use of geographical and occupational terms) with the appropriate staff at ICANN.”

I put the same question to Embrescia: How is it Employ Media can allow these domains to be used, when the agreement with ICANN says, “These (geographical and occupational terms) restricted lists are in addition to the restriction that .jobs domains comprise only trade names or commonly-known names?”

He didn’t respond to the question. But in the blog post on the Universe.jobs site, Fassett writes, “The question for us has been, since inception, how can geographic and occupational names exist in .jobs to serve the interests of the global human resource management community? I admit many did not realize this question was out there…

“We are working in cooperation with SHRM. We are approaching our community as ICANN expects us to do. I also fully admit there is not a single definitive answer to this question. But there are answers. Our obligation is to select one or more.”

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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