Now HERE’S a post that might stir up some lively debate… :)

When it comes to social networking websites and their role in job hunting, I’ll confess, I’ve pretty much “only got eyes” for LinkedIn at this point — but have been seeing increased chatter out there about the importance of using other networking sites to generate connections, especially Twitter.  For those who may not know much about Twitter, it basically involves exchanging brief text messages throughout the day with a number of fellow users on the system who you decide to “follow” on a regular basis.  For those unfamiliar with the tool, click here and you can watch a short little video that explains how the site works and some of its unique capabilities.

But back to the key question I want to ask: “Does it make sense for the average job hunter to invest the time to join, learn, and start using Twitter, in addition to all of the other critical job hunting activities and resources people need to be concentrating on?”

Now before you rush to respond, let me issue a big disclaimer.  Clearly, anybody whose professional career is directly related to the new media field (e.g. marketing executives, web programmers, recruiters, etc.) will need to pay careful attention to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and the other similar technologies out there.  These sites have become a major part of the Internet landscape and will only be growing in importance in the coming years as a way for companies to communicate with their customers, recruit new employees, and so forth.  My specific question, however, is whether Twitter has now reached the point that it should be viewed as a mainstream job hunting tool, able to generate good networking and job hunting results for a broad range of professionals in transition.  Should a Manufacturing CFO sign up for Twitter, in other words?  How about a copier salesperson?  Or a property manager?  Or an admin assistant?  Is this a technology that’s still on the bleeding edge or something that has become truly meaningful to the masses?

Based on my own outside observations, I don’t think we’re quite there yet.  While the site is definitely attracting a huge following (over 1 million users, reportedly) and is the current “darling” of the social networking scene, I’m still not hearing any stories of consistent, concrete breakthroughs that the site’s users are enjoying in their job search efforts.  This is in stark contrast to LinkedIn.com, where I could cite hundreds of examples of people using the tool to lasso a job, generate useful referrals, identify appropriate target companies, and the like.  And while Twitter strikes me as a technology people are flocking to because it’s fun, addictive, and inarguably “cool” in many respects, I’m still not convinced of its raw productivity in a job hunting context.  Have you had a different experience?  If so, please let me know, since I’m completely open to being convinced to the contrary!

As for the basic premise of Twitter and the notion that anybody in their right mind would be interested in keeping track of what other people are doing at all hours of the day, I’ll confess that this concept first struck me as utterly, absolutely ridiculous.  Slowly but surely, however, I’m starting to be won over.  For example, I’ve caught myself many times scanning through the “status reports” section on the Home page of LinkedIn, where people in your network are able to publish short notes related to what they’re working on.  In a sense, these notes are something of a “Twitter lite” and I’ve certainly been intrigued to see what kinds of jobs people are doing, what books they’re reading, what events they’re attending, and the the like.  So who knows?  If I’m seeing value in this basic simulation of the Twitter experience, perhaps I’d be blown away by the real thing, if I gave it a fighting chance.

Twitter veterans out there, your thoughts?