The expansion of the .jobs domain was one of the most controversial issue in the Internet job-search world as the first decade of the 21st century ended. we asked “The Job Board Doctor, Jeff Dickey-Chasins about the expansion and controversy.
by Jeff Dickey-Chasins
Background: In the fall of 2010 a partnership of Employ Media (the registrar that provides DirectEmployers with .jobs addresses) and the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) was preparing to unleash tens of thousands of new job boards under the .jobs domain amid protests and concerns from many players in industry, especially job-board owners. Despite a vigorous campaign against the .jobs rollout by the Dot Jobs Opposition Coalition, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) approved the expansion of .jobs sites in the fall of 2010, and the rollout began early in 2011. As this article went to “press,” ICANN issued (on Feb. 27, 2011) a breach-of-agreement notice to Employ Media, giving it 30 days to correct the breach and come into compliance.
The expansion of the .job top-level domain from the original charter — which was intended to be just for companies hiring directly — was misleading at best and illegal at worst and was implemented because Employ Media was unsuccessful in getting companies to adopt .jobs. Only 15,000 companies bought .jobs domains in five years. The partnership behind .jobs needed to make more money.
The .jobs domain was not widely adopted because a new top-level domain basically requires a change in job-seeker behavior; instead of typing “Coke.com,” for example, to get to jobs offered by Coke, job-seekers would have to learn to type “Coke.jobs.” It’s hard to change behavior. Companies also ended up supporting two sites — the main company site, and the .jobs site — or they just used the .jobs address to redirect job-seekers to their regular .com careers area on their main site. In addition, search engines are slow to give authority to a new top-level domain; thus, a company .com career site is more likely to show up high in the search-engine rankings than a .jobs career site. The .jobs domain doesn’t have any search-engine “juice.”
The .jobs “universe” is basically a job-board network broken out by geography (e.g., Atlanta.jobs) and profession (e.g., nurses.jobs). That’s it. And without a lot of participants and search-engine rankings, the .jobs domain is no better, and in reality probably worse, for employers in terms of exposure for their jobs.
From a job-seeker perspective, the .jobs universe is another job-board network. Its one supposed advantage is that it lists only jobs direct from employers — no recruiters or other third parties. The revisions to the charter granted to Employ Media allowed pretty much anyone approved by Employ Media to post jobs. So the no-third-party advantage is questionable.
Do job-seekers really need another 40,000 new job boards — particularly when the majority of these jobs already appear on other sites? For example, the majority of traffic and jobs for the .jobs universe seems to come from an established site that DirectEmployers has run for years, JobCentral. If you can already find the same jobs there, do you need the additional sites?
Ultimately, I think the market will decide. This initiative might have gone somewhere if it had appeared in 2001 or so. But now it seems to be a solution in search of a problem. I think ICANN made the wrong decision in approving the charter changes originally. But even if that original approval ends up standing (ICANN reversed its original decision on Feb. 27, 2011), I don’t think it will matter for job boards or job-seekers. Individual job sites that focus on specific niches will continue to do a better job for most job-seekers because of their focus. They won’t be trying to spread their efforts across 40,000 sites. I also suspect that the search engines will not give .jobs any special authority — so the .jobs universe will have trouble getting any search-engine advantage in what is ultimately a .com world. I doubt that job-seekers will notice the hubbub — most .jobs sites will never even appear in job-seeker searches. Instead, job-seekers will work their social networks, rely on the 3-5 job sites that make sense for them, and visit corporate sites.
The Job Board Doctor is Jeff Dickey-Chasins, a veteran of the job board, publishing, and e-learning industries. Jeff was the original marketing director for Dice.com, growing it from $7 million to $65+ million in three years. He has worked with numerous job boards and HR-related sites over the past 20 years.
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