How and Why to Object to Taking .jobs Away From Employers and Creating a Million New Job Boards

SHRM logoIf you believe that the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and associations like DirectEmployers should operate in an open, transparent, and honest fashion, then take a few minutes from your day, read this blog entry, and immediately send an email in which you voice your objections to the .jobs proposal to jobs-phased-allocation@icann.org.


On the other hand, if you believe that the ends justify the means, then sit back and wait until about mid-August when some back room deals could be
approved that will result in Employ Media, a for-profit organization which is closely related to the non-profit DirectEmployers (yes, that's correct), is able to do just about whatever it wants with the .jobs domains.



If you're a third party recruiter specializing in information technology workers, wouldn't you love it if Employ Media refuses to sell InformationTechnology.jobs to you and instead creates its own job board using that domain? Better yet, how about if you specialize in that market in Chicago and Employ Media gives you the choice of buying ChicagoInformationTechnology.jobs for a measly $5,000 per year or watching them create and promote that domain to your clients? Or you're Microsoft and Employ Media gives you the choice of buying both SoftwareEngineer.jobs or SeattleSoftwareEngineer.jobs for $100,000 per year (they'll have full control over the pricing for different domains for different potential buyers) or they'll turn around and sell those to Amazon for $10,000 per year (maybe their sister works at Amazon so they want to cut her a deal that they won't make available on the same terms to you). Better yet, you're American Airlines and you're not even offered the opportunity to buy AmericanAirlines.jobs because Employ Media decides that it wants to use it to create a job board with job postings scraped from all sorts of U.S.-based airlines as well as loads of ads telling you that you need to have your credit history checked or you won't be hired and you should immediately request information about continuing your education because otherwise no employer will want to hire you. Nice, huh?


So how did this all get started? Actually, the origins were innocent enough. Six years ago, SHRM and Employ Media got together and submitted an application to the International Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the governing body for Internet domain names and top level domain (TLD) extensions like .com and .net, and requested that ICANN create a new TLD, .jobs. ICANN approved the application a year later in 2005.


SHRM was to be the sponsor of the new .jobs TLD. As such, its role was to set policy and establish registration requirements. Employ Media was essentially to administer the TLD, including selling the new domains. Due to a startling lack of transparency, we don't know much else about the relationship although it has been reported that "SHRM receives a flat fee from Employ Media for its role in sponsoring the .jobs TLD."



So what .jobs domains are available? The .jobs charter limits their use to domains such as organizations such as Toyota or Microsoft using them to drive traffic to their career sites. So Toyota could use Toyota.jobs and Microsoft could use Microsoft.jobs but job boards such as Monster and CollegeRecruiter.com could not use Monster.jobs or CollegeRecruiter.jobs unless it was to promote their own job openings and not those of their clients. Similarly, job boards like Monster and CollegeRecruiter.com could not register Automotive.jobs or SoftwareEngineer.jobs and use those to drive traffic to job posting ads they sold to Toyota or Microsoft. In short, the .jobs domains were reserved for employers promoting their own job openings. End of story. Or was it?


Well, if the story ended there, no one would be upset except, perhaps, for SHRM and Employ Media. You see, after five years, Employ Media has managed to sell only 15,000 .jobs domains even though there are some 13 million employers in the U.S. alone and likely hundreds of millions more in other countries. So SHRM and Employ Media apparently huddled up and agreed that their partnership was failing and brainstormed about how they could turns their lemons into lemonade.


The scheme they hatched was to pretend that ICANN authorized Employ Media to do with .jobs just about anything it wanted with the .jobs TLD included the creation of potentially a million new job boards owned and operated by Employ Media. Yes, a million. They really said that.



SHRM apparently thought this was such a good idea that in a process that resulted in the resignations of multiple members of the task force charged with overseeing the process, it gave its blessing to Employ Media to charge ahead. Employ Media could sell some .jobs domains to job boards and other organizations whose eligibility and cost for buying the domains would be determined by Employ Media with no oversight in a process which would lack transparency (see a pattern here?) and use other domains to create perhaps a million new cookie cutter job boards to go along with the estimated 100,000 which already exist.


Do you want Employ Media to create hundreds of thousands and perhaps a million new job boards however it sees fit when the charter it and SHRM were granted clearly restricted the use of the .jobs domains to employers wanting to create an easy way for their candidates to go directly to the career section of the employers' web sites? Some may argue that this is just free enterprise at work and I would agree in part. Although the creation of a million new job boards will surely add new competition, that isn't the problem. I wouldn't be thrilled about that, but I also wouldn't be helping to lead the objectors in this process. Rather, it is the lack of openness, transparency, and even honesty that is the problem. If the new domains were to be sold like .com domains -- anyone can buy them in a manner that is open, transparent, and honest -- then you wouldn't hear such a fuss. But if Employ Media gets its way then some .jobs domains will be sold behind closed doors and others will be retained by Employ Media to enrich its coffers through the creation of perhaps a million new job boards.



If you agree that Employ Media should be allowed to do what it wants, do nothing for inaction will surely lead to ICANN's approval. But if you don't want Employ Media creating and operating domains such as Headhunter.jobs, StaffingAgency.jobs, Chicago.jobs, SoftwareEngineer.jobs, SiliconValley.jobs, Dublin.jobs, or HoustonProfessionalSales.jobs then you need to take action today by simply sending an email to ICANN in which you object to the plans of Employ Media. And it really should be today because tomorrow (Thursday, July 15, 2010) is the deadline to submit comments on this.


Note that a personalized letter is a bit better than sending the same letter as everyone else, but sending the same letter is FAR better than sending no letter. Similarly, sending a letter by mail on letterhead is a bit better than sending by email on letterhead or sending a regular email, but sending a regular email is FAR better than sending none. So if you only have time to send a regular email, do so today. If you have time to also print it onto letterhead, sign it, and mail it, do so today. As reported last week by John Zappe of ERE, all comments must be received within the next four days on Thursday, July 15, 2010.



If you don't know what to write, have a look at what I and others have submitted or use this:



July 15, 2010



Peter Dengate Thrush, Chairman
Members of the Board of Directors
International Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers
Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers
4676 Admiralty Way, Suite 330
Marina del Rey, CA 90292-6601
USA



By Email To: jobs-phased-allocation@icann.org



RE: Employ Media sTLD Charter Amendment



Dear Chairman Dengate Thrush and Members of the Board:



I am writing on behalf of [insert the name of your organization here], to urge you to reject Employ Media's request for authority to permit second level registration of strings that do not correspond to an employer's name in the .jobs sponsored top level domain. My
organization would be directly and adversely affected by this request and therefore opposes the unilateral expansion of the .jobs charter to encompass regional and industry-specific second-level registrations.



Since 1993, the community of online employment service companies--job boards, associations, staffing firms, newspapers and other publications that operate job posting and/or resume search databases--has effectively served working men and women and employers worldwide. These same organizations have also significantly improved the career prospects of veterans, minorities, disadvantaged persons and those affected by natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina.



The separate and distinct communities of employers, staffing agencies, third party recruiters, job boards, and even career services are now threatened by the proposed expansion of the .jobs top level domain (TLD). The charter holder is attempting to extend the application of the TLD from its approved community--direct employers--into the online employment services community by introducing geocentric (i.e., Atlanta.jobs, NewYork.jobs, Athens.jobs) and occupation specific (i..e, nurse.jobs, salesperson.jobs,
systemsanalyst.jobs) web sites. It now has a proposal to implement this plan before the governing board of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names & Numbers (ICANN).


This proposal violates both the spirit and the letter of the charter holder's contract with ICANN. No less important, it will grievously harm the online employment services community and therefore my organization by confusing the job seekers and employers who have long been the customers of the community.



Sincerely,



[Insert your name, job title, and contact information here]



Oh, two more things:

  1. When you email the above letter to ICANN, please cc me at Steven@CollegeRecruiter.com. I want to make a difference in this process and if you'll cc me on your email, I'll know that my time was
    well spent.
  2. After you send your email by the evening of Thursday, July 15th, watch your inbox and perhaps also your spam folder because ICANN will kick out to you an automated email to confirm that you really exist. All you need to do is click the link in the email so your comment will be submitted. If you don't, it might as well not exist.
Thanks!!

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I'm glad that you're so confident but I think that we'll need to agree to disagree.

Richard Cialone said:
Stephen:

,jobs will not go anywhere. I don't believe the recruiting space will suffer (except maybe those who fall for the hype...and maybe they deserve it).
I am confident, Stephen. As confident as I was the first time around. But don't get me wrong...if you feel strongly about your position, you should certainly pursue a remedy.
.com is where its at, or .co.uk if in the UK. all the new .whatevers will never be as established as .com

I don't see how toyota making a toyota.jobs domain will impact our revenue, if anything it will waste their time and money, and then they come back to us for the candidates!!!!
The problem isn't with Toyota.jobs or IBM.jobs or any of the other perfectly legitimate, current uses. The problem is if Employ Media is able to create SeattleSoftwareEngineer.jobs and use that themselves rather than selling it to others, or only selling it to you for $50,000 but being my buddy so selling it to me for $500.

Mark Spencer said:
.com is where its at, or .co.uk if in the UK. all the new .whatevers will never be as established as .com

I don't see how toyota making a toyota.jobs domain will impact our revenue, if anything it will waste their time and money, and then they come back to us for the candidates!!!!
I was always concerned with the possibility DEA would start hosting data and sites- because they represent a chunk of employers, control of that info could become valuable.
Steven Rothberg said:
The problem isn't with Toyota.jobs or IBM.jobs or any of the other perfectly legitimate, current uses. The problem is if Employ Media is able to create SeattleSoftwareEngineer.jobs and use that themselves rather than selling it to others, or only selling it to you for $50,000 but being my buddy so selling it to me for $500.

Mark Spencer said:
.com is where its at, or .co.uk if in the UK. all the new .whatevers will never be as established as .com

I don't see how toyota making a toyota.jobs domain will impact our revenue, if anything it will waste their time and money, and then they come back to us for the candidates!!!!

Fair point, but the argument still rests on the assumption that .jobs will be successful - for me, I think it is too specific to be successful- .org is good because only certain organizations can use it, .ac.uk, .gov or .edu the same. but .jobs just sounds a bit cheap to me.

On another note, would it not be classed as some sort of price fixing?

Also, surely
It seemed prudent to say this privately. On second thought, let me say this aloud so that we who are reading and speaking can discuss it freely.

I appreciate your clarifying the position but it still sounds like those who are adversely affected are now crying foul because the situation is uncomfortable. It still sounds like the practices I've seen repeatedly in the recruiting sphere where I used to be active are now being turned on those who use those exact devices. They don't like having the heavy hammer come down on their heads and are screaming for having things their way again.

(Please do NOT think that these words have a personal attack attached to them. It's merely looking at the practices being discussed.)

I tend to agree with Cialone on this.

Steven Rothberg said:
Yvonne,

For whatever reason, SHRM has apparently decided to wash its hands of the whole mess and turn it over to DirectEmployers Association and Employ Media. I'm guessing that SHRM thought it had a gold mine with selling .jobs domains to its members but after five years they were only able to sell 15,000 of them worldwide. So now DEA and EA are trying to change the rules of the game and move the playground from serving just employers in an open, transparent, and honest fashion to also serving third party recruiters, staffing agencies, job boards, and probably other communities such as career services. Their charter expressly prohibits this yet this is exactly what they're trying to do.

If they were to act just as a registrar and all buyers could see the same prices and buy at the same terms and not be competing for the purchase and use of the domains with the registrar (who, by the way, apparently gets its pick of as many of the domains as it wishes before it sells them to anyone else), well, I wouldn't have a problem with it. But they're trying to take over other playgrounds, set the rules themselves, not tell anyone what those rules are, choose who gets to play in the playground, under what terms, and for how much money.

Yvonne LaRose said:
This is a bit confusing, Steven. Are you telling us that SHRM is not to be trusted or that Employ Media is not to be trusted or that neither entity is to be trusted?

While it's clear that what you're talking about relates to domain names, the situations you site (as well as the examples) are typical practices of this profession. So from where I'm sitting and from my albeit fleeting interpretation of what I've read, this is a case of "pot calling the kettle black."

I've had one of my domain names stolen from me (as well as quite a bit of other proprietary property). When I attempted to get recourse and protection, it was refused. Why would this be any different from the past?
I'd suggest a quick read of Gerry Crispin's thoughts on .jobs and SHRM's role... some highlights:

"I strongly oppose Employ Media's history of dissembling, lack of transparency and willingness to enter into backroom deals and, am even more strongly concerned with SHRM's inability to choose to act as a trusted referee. It is for these reasons that I oppose the unilateral expansion of the .jobs charter to encompass regional and industry-specific second-level registrations under their auspices. The two entities you have trusted with the Charter have every intention to misuse it for profit and/or look the other way in a misguided notion of their role."
The quote merely underscores what I said before. Those in the sphere have used precisely those methods to their own benefit and literally said, "We'll do whatever [the heck] we want to do." They take what is good for their own profit and disparage and defame the originator while claiming ownership and creation of the thing of interest. And except for one instance where I watched the wheels of destruction go into motion, all is done behind closed doors -- no transparency and all the rest.

The difference between the two is simply not there. As you say, SHRM got disgusted with the whole thing and just stepped aside. Perhaps that's what needs to happen here. With no support, the ones who cavalierly go about doing whatever they want will have to rethink their methodology and hopefully come up with something that is more acceptable.
There's a huge difference between showing no support and showing opposition. No support means no voice and only those with voices get heard.

Yvonne LaRose said:
The quote merely underscores what I said before. Those in the sphere have used precisely those methods to their own benefit and literally said, "We'll do whatever [the heck] we want to do." They take what is good for their own profit and disparage and defame the originator while claiming ownership and creation of the thing of interest. And except for one instance where I watched the wheels of destruction go into motion, all is done behind closed doors -- no transparency and all the rest.

The difference between the two is simply not there. As you say, SHRM got disgusted with the whole thing and just stepped aside. Perhaps that's what needs to happen here. With no support, the ones who cavalierly go about doing whatever they want will have to rethink their methodology and hopefully come up with something that is more acceptable.
Those with voices sometimes get a sock stuffed in their mouths -- or have their words deleted. Turning your back on the wrong and offering no support of it, saying "no" to it among others, creates a great deal of force and is a very strong statement.
Not when the rules of engagement are that the only opinions which are considered are those which are on record. If you don't voice your opinion, there's no record of it. This isn't India after WWII. This is ICANN.

Yvonne LaRose said:
Those with voices sometimes get a sock stuffed in their mouths -- or have their words deleted. Turning your back on the wrong and offering no support of it, saying "no" to it among others, creates a great deal of force and is a very strong statement.

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