In 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.
Members 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.
“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.”