A SHRM advisory group is being asked to approve changes allowing non-company names to be awarded a .jobs Internet address.
The approval is a crucial step in opening the door for the .jobs extension to be used with occupational, geographic, and other names, which a private organization wants to use to launch tens of thousands of new job boards.
There’s no announced meeting date for the advisory group — officially known as a Policy Development Process Council — but a public comment period closes Friday, April 9. There is a discussion board for comments.
Although the plan by Direct Employers to create a “Universe” of job boards has been the subject of ERE articles and a special meeting at the organization’s headquarters in Indianapolis in January, there’s no evidence of a public announcement of the amendment.
Indeed, the only mention of the amendment and the call for comments is on www.policy.jobs, a website that was first registered on Feb. 16th. The Society for Human Resource Management, which is responsible for ensuring compliance with the .jobs registration eligibility requirements, has a link to policy.jobs, but it’s deep on SHRM’s “Copyright & Permissions” page. That may be why there isn’t a single comment on the discussion board.
None of the key players in the amendment process could be reached Wednesday. However, the history of the .jobs address is well known.
The idea of a .jobs domain was first pitched in 2004 by Employ Media, a private company which now manages the name registration, and SHRM, the official sponsoring organization. The application to Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, which manages Internet addressing, said a .jobs designation would only be issued in the name of a company and only when an application came from an HR professional.
The eventual agreement approved by ICANN’s board in April 2005 maintained the company name requirement. Applications could come from SHRM members, HR professionals with management experience, those who subscribe to SHRM’s Code of Ethics, or who are certified by Human Resource Certification Institute.
That was the state of affairs going into 2009, when Tom Embrescia, CEO of Employ Media, began considering other options for promoting the use of the address. Among them was to open the registration to non-company name uses.
About that time, Bill Warren, executive director of DirectEmployers Association, was proposing a plan to Embrescia to create niche job boards using occupation and geographic names with a .jobs extension. In October, the first of these launched in beta.
A month after DirectEmployers’ first launch, the recruitment focused consortium was talking about eventually having hundreds of thousands of job boards — a “Universe” as its website declared. In the ERE article, SHRM’s Chief Publishing and E-Media Officer Gary Rubin said he saw no conflict with the ICANN rules in deploying sites like atlanta.jobs and sales.jobs.
However, even as DirectEmployers was developing its launch plan for the sites and discussing how job postings would be handled, Warren was hearing from job boards and some others who were objecting to parts or all of the plan.
He called an invitation-only meeting in late January at the office of DirectEmployers in Indianapolis. It was lightly attended. But those there reported he announced that 25,000 job board sites would launch in a few weeks.
Then, silence. Instead of new sites launching, the several dozen already up were taken down. Warren told me a few weeks later that technical changes and other modifications caused the retreat. The weekend before my story appeared, the Associated Press wrote about the project, saying sites would go online by the end of March.
That didn’t happen.
In fact, even as Warren was telling the world about the imminent launch of the new sites, Employ Media was asking SHRM to agree to the amendment to allow it to do what Warren and Employ Media, his teammate in the project, had already done — launch occupation- and geographic-named sites on the .jobs domain.
On the official .jobs website — goto.jobs — there’s a “.jobs Issue Report” bearing Warren’s name and a Feb. 15 date. It says because some have objected to the use of non-company names, Employ Media has submitted an amendment to specifically allow it to do just that.
On the policy.jobs website, the one where the call for comments appears and SHRM lists the members of its advisory council, there’s an issues paper entitled “.jobs Issue Report to the .jobs PDP Council.”
Also there is a document bearing the name of Brian Johnson, Employ Media’s attorney. It details the proposed amendment to the agreement, but is largely a defense of its position that it already has the authority to issue web addresses in occupational, geographic, and similar names.
The paper says Employ Media disagrees with “the argument …that the Appendix S Provisions limit .jobs registrations to the “companyname” product category.” However, it appears that the company is seeking the amendment to “clarify that the actions set forth in the Proposed Amendment would not be precluded by the Appendix S Provisions.”
That paper also talks about a “shared domain beta,” presumably the sites being developed by DirectEmployers. The paper says Employ Media will register names for this shared domain beta and assign their use to some unnamed third party “who will provide uniform, consistent content at such shared beta domains.”