Dot Jobs “Universe” Growing Again; So Is Controversy

The universe of job boards is expanding again,  reigniting the controversy over the massive job board plan and the purpose of the .jobs Internet designation.

Last week DirectEmployers Association launched thousands of new sites, and by the end of the month will have 40,000 worldwide. By the end of the year the group could be operating 100,000 job boards.

That’s prompted the .JOBS Charter Compliance Coalition to file a complaint with the Internet’s addressing authority complaining the parties behind the so called Dot Jobs Universe are violating the rules under which the addresses are granted.

In a letter to officials of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers the coalition says registrar Employ Media, which provides DirectEmployers with the .jobs addresses, is “causing substantial and continuing harm to numerous members of the Internet community, including many smaller, regional and niche job boards that are suffering immediate and irreparable harm from the operation of the Charter-violating Dot Jobs Universe.”

The new sites, operated off a central platform, carry geographic, occupational, and industry names ending with .jobs. Previously, only company names could be used with a .jobs extension. But over the objections of the .JOBS Charter Compliance Coalition  ICANN in August approved an expansion of the allowable names. Almost immediately, the Coalition filed a reconsideration request, which ICANN rejected in early December. Though in doing so, the ICANN Board of Directors ordered its staff to “closely monitor” Employ Media’s compliance with the .jobs rules.

Within days of the board action, DirectEmployers started relaunching its job boards. Last week, it added thousands to the first few dozen. All employers will be able to post jobs for free, according to a press release issued byDirectEmployers. It will earn money by charging for premium positioning. The organization has another job board, Job Central, that is in addition to the new sites.

“With the recent advances in cloud computing, the scalability of the .JOBS Universe is off the charts,” says Bill Warren, who heads DirectEmployers. “The potential for cost savings is natural, real and sustainable as well as available free of charge to every employer worldwide regardless of industry or size.”

DirectEmployers got the names in a deal with Employ Media, with which it has an alliance. The two first joined forces in 2009, launching hundreds of similar sites in a test that was a precursor to a full-scale launch.

Terms of the current arrangement are not known. In August, when Employ Media got permission to expand the allowable naming uses for .jobs, it announced an RFP process, with a first round deadline of Sept. 24. Nothing more — the winners, details of a round 2, or the applicants — was ever posted.

With the relaunch of the job sites, DirectEmployers picks up pretty much where it left off almost exactly a year ago. Its Dot Jobs Universe was put on hold in February 2010 after ICANN questioned the plan, setting off a months long controversy over the purpose of the .jobs designation.

A so-called Sponsored Top Level Domain, .jobs was created in 2005 at the behest of Employ Media, and backed by the Society for Human Resource Management.

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In their application, the two told ICANN the .jobs address was needed to facilitate the marketing and promotion of corporate career sites, and make it easier for job seekers to find employment opportunities of specific companies.

Only employers using their corporate name could get a .jobs address. And they had to comply with other requirements, including adherence to SHRM’s code of ethics. In the registration agreement, Employ Media limited companies to posting only their own jobs on sites with the .jobs domain. That limitation is now gone.

In early December, ICANN refused to reconsider its earlier decision to expand the use of the .jobs domain by allowing the use of almost any name. The reconsideration request was filed by a coalition of commercial job boards, the American Staffing Association, the Newspaper Association of AmericaShaker Recruitment Advertising and Communications, and others. The .JOBS Charter Compliance Coalition was formed after SHRM endorsed Employ Media’s plan to open up the .jobs address.

John Zappe

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.