.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 was the editor of TLNT.com and 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.