Over the past few months, this blog has been quieter than usual. I’ve spent no small amount of time off-line discussing new trends online.  Come March 1, you’ll be able to see what I’ve been up to as JIST Publishing releases the Twitter Job Search Guide, a book that I co-wrote with my dear colleagues, Deb Dib (aka “the CEO Coach”) and Susan Whitcomb (author of Resume Magic.) Tweet

So it will probably come as no surprise to you that I am a fan of Twitter—or that I think it’s a great tool to help you find your next job…In the course of doing research for the book, my co-authors and I talked to many individuals who successfully landed jobs through Twitter, and learned dozens of strategies you can use to expand your network and increase your access to job leads.  We share what we’ve learned in the book.

But along the way, we still met many people who think that Twitter is about sharing what you ate for lunch—and who don’t really care to do that. My co-authors and I respectfully agree that Twitter is what you make of it, and acknowledge that it isn’t for everyone. But we also think it holds great potential. Here’s a case in point: During the course of our research, I attended a Twitter 140 conference where I learned how Twitter has streamlined communications between high school principals and parents, eased crises in the Middle East through providing rapid access to public information, and cut out the “middle” step in making connections between journalists and public figures. On a personal level, I’ve been able to gain access to c-level executives within 72 hours or less, resolve customer service issues–and arrange spontaneous meetings in different cities. (I even scored a free ticket to see U2 at the Rose Bowl.)

You can use Twitter to search for job leads, find individual contacts inside an organization that you are applying to, and stay up to date on current trends in your field. You can also use it to build connections and exponentially increase the size and reach of your personal network and to create a community of individuals who share your interests. And that’s just a start. We’ll be sharing more information on why you may want to do this—and how you can begin—in the coming months.

While all of these things are cool, I think there are three essentials in particular that Twitter offers job seekers that shouldn’t be overlooked:

1. Breathing room to expand your network. Twitter makes Facebook and LinkedIn look like a tight pair of jeans–the connection has to fit before you can use the network. You can join group discussions but you can’t connect as friends or “connections” unless the other person initiates or approves the relationship. But Twitter is different. Since most users don’t block their status updates, you can connect with–and learn from–complete strangers all over the world–and search for people to connect with in your field. That’s pretty powerful. If I need to get in touch with Canadians on how to write a proper resume/CV for a job in Montreal, I know I can get this information within a few hours. Before Twitter this may have taken days–even with an extensive LinkedIn and Facebook network.

2. A community of leads and support. Do you have hobbies, interests, or goals that your colleagues and neighbors don’t share? Want to find people who share your interests? Search Twitter’s search engine by keyword to find discussions on areas of interest or check out Listorious (htto://Listorious.com) and find lists of Twitter users by category and keyword.

3. Active practice in writing in the short form many employers prefer. I’ve struggled to convey my ideas in fewer words for years; Twitter forces me to condense my message to 140 characters or less. I can feel my writing skills improve. After 18+ months on Twitter, I’m finding it easier to write in sound bites and to say what I want to say concisely and without “excess words.” Given that most employers prefer a short explanation to a long and rambling one, you may find Twitter to be great practice for corporate communications and resume writing, too.

These are three quick reasons why I enjoy Twitter. What are your likes and dislikes, and how can I help you with your job search? What do you want to learn more about?