By Katherine WalshThe period of time between Thanksgiving and the New Year is notoriously slow for job seekers. While some things speed up--perhaps your heart rate when trying to find a parking space at the mall--others, like lining up that interview for your dream security job, come to a screeching halt. During this month, companies are advertising fewer jobs, and employers aren\u2019t conducting as many interviews to fill positions. It\u2019s not just your imagination.Many employers don\u2019t post jobs at the end of the year because they don\u2019t have the budget for a new hire, says Jeff Combs, practice lead of IT risk recruiting for executive recruitment firm Alta Associates. \u201cIf they are posting,\u201d he says, \u201cit\u2019s because they want to get a pipeline going into the new year, when they have a new budget\u201c--but they still may be slow to respond to candidates who answer their job ads. Combs says that out of every 20 clients with job orders for a recruiter to fill, typically only four or five of them are serious about actually hiring someone between now and the end of the year.Even companies that are serious about the hiring process may find it next to impossible to get the ball rolling on the interview process. \u201cWith the stress, [holiday] parties, and people not wanting to lose vacation time, it\u2019s difficult to get everyone mentally lined up for the interview process,\u201d Combs says. Nevertheless, security job seekers can still take advantage of the hiring lull by using the time to regroup. Here are some tips on how to do that, between bites of pumpkin pie.1. Reevaluate yourself.Take the time to plan your search and be analytical about it, Combs says. \u201cYou\u2019re marketing yourself when you\u2019re looking for a new job, so take the time to brand yourself.\u201d To do that, you need to understand what makes you better than the other candidates applying for the same job. \u201cThink about what your differentiators are, and how you are going to define and articulate them,\u201d he says.You should also give some serious thought as to what you really want to do. Want to work for a larger company? Move from the technical realm into security management? \u201cAsk yourself what your motivations are for wanting to make the move,\u201d Combs says. \u201cDo you want to do the same thing for another company, or do you want more responsibility?\u201d If you think about these things prior to the application process, then you\u2019re starting from solid ground.2. Do your homework.Research different companies in your region and identify ones that you think may be able to use your skills, says Evan Scott, president of executive search firm Evan Scott Group International. \u201cSearch company websites and see what kinds of jobs they are advertising for,\u201d he says. If they seem to be a fit, get some contacts and send out some initial e-mails introducing yourself. Or, if possible, take some time to visit certain companies.\u201cIt\u2019s a good opportunity to canvas all the companies that might support your professional interests within a commuting distance,\u201d Combs says.3. Party, er, network.With all the parties going on, networking is often easier to do this time of year, Scott says. \u201cIt\u2019s a great opportunity to meet new recruiters and start to plant some seeds for meetings in January.\u201d\u00a0 If you are looking for positions at the CSO\/CISO level, Scott suggests reaching out to retainer-based search firms, which tend to handle high-level job postings. (A recruiter who works on retainer has an exclusive contract to fill a job. For the inside skinny, read \u201cThe Moving Game,\u201d written by a CSO who\u2019s been there, done that.)\u00a0 \u201cRecognize they may not have a fit for you now, but set up a meeting anyway; it\u2019s a good time for them to know who you are.\u201dCombs says it\u2019s also a good time to reach out to existing contacts. \u201cLet headhunters you know and trust know you\u2019re ready to start looking,\u201d he says. \u201cTouch base with friends, past colleagues, current colleagues or organizations you may be a member of, like the Information Systems Security Association or (ISC)2, and see if there are any networking meetings you can take advantage of.\u201d Once you do make the connection, whether new or old, make sure you set a timeline for following up, Combs says. It\u2019s especially important to do this time of year, when people are increasingly busy outside of work. \u201cYou don\u2019t want to pester people, but set a date to talk again and be disciplined about it.\u201d Combs and Scott both predict that social networking sites like LinkedIn, Facebook and MySpace will continue to grow in popularity, and effectively change the job search process. Scott says he hasn\u2019t seen such techniques used very much at the senior levels, but that they may be more effective for middle management and junior-level positions. Regardless of your experience level, it\u2019s not a bad idea to put yourself on a network like LinkedIn.However, it\u2019s still good to exercise caution when using those tools, says Combs. \u201cSteer toward ones that are more professionally focused,\u201d he says. \u201cUse them in a way that is constructive toward your professional goals and maintain a high level of professionalism through them.\u201d4. Sharpen your resume.These quiet weeks are also a good time to hunker down with your resume. You could start by spending some time visiting job list aggregators like SimplyHired and Monster. Although the listings may be sparse, it\u2019s helpful to know what is out there before you work on your resume. \u201cThat way, they are writing it with the goal of solving the problems the job descriptions are asking to be solved,\u201d Combs says, and listing their accomplishments and skills in a way that satisfies what the market wants. Writing it with that context in mind can improve your chances of scoring an interview. \u201cIt all goes back to figuring out what your differentiators are and branding yourself,\u201d Combs says. \u201cThen make sure your resume reflects that.\u201dRecruiters can also help, Scott says. \u201cIf you can develop a relationship with a recruiter, ask them for their advice,\u201d he says. \u201cIt\u2019s a good idea to ask them for samples of resumes they like.\u201d (For advice from CSO, see \u201cSharpen Up Your Resume,\u201d in which two experts weigh in on how a fictional CSO candidate could improve his prospects.)5. Be patient.During this time of year, don\u2019t take it personally if things aren\u2019t happening quickly, Combs says. Recognize that it\u2019s natural for things to slow down during this season; that\u2019s not a reflection of your worth as an employee or job skills. Instead, he says, \u201ctake advantage of the fact that it\u2019s slower, and do the \u2018housecleaning\u2019 that most people don\u2019t get to do when things are moving quickly. And try to enjoy the holiday season.\u201d Associate Staff Writer Katherine Walsh can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.--Editor\u2019s note: The comment field below does not work. Please send your feedback directly to the author.