The old adage “anything is for sale at the right price” may not apply to precious family heirlooms, but it almost always applies to employees. Most of your applicants know they are for sale—they are actively looking for work, which usually means they are either not happy at their last (or current) job, or their previous employer was not happy with their performance, which could mean bad news for you out of the starting gate.

How can you avoid hiring your competitors’ leftovers? One way is to seek out passive candidates. Because they are not actively looking to change employers, passive candidates won’t flood your office with resumes, and most of them haven’t set their price yet, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be bought. The key is to proactively seek out the top minds in the field that you need to make your business grow, and then offer them precisely what they want to make the switch. Their price isn’t necessarily more money, either; it could be greater creative freedom or responsibility, new challenges, a more suitable corporate culture, or other non-monetary perks like a flexible schedule or the ability to work from home on certain days.

Here are a few strategies you should be using now to attract more passive candidates and grow your business:

  1. Simplify the Application Process

    Candidates who are actively searching for a new job are far more motivated to jump through hoops to get their foot in the door. They may not currently be working at all, or if they are they usually won’t mind taking a day off to come to an interview. Passive candidates, on the other hand, have jobs, and they are dedicated to their current employers. It’s that same dedication you’re looking to get for yourself, remember? So you want to make it as painless as possible for them to start the process.

    Consider using prerecorded video interviews for your initial screenings, if you aren’t doing that already. This will let your top candidates complete the first round of interviews at their convenience, without asking them to miss a day of work. You can still call them in later for in-person interviews, but by that point they are further along in the process and should be already somewhat invested in the idea of coming to work for you. I can’t tell you how many candidates I have placed that have told me the only reason they applied for the job at all was because the application and interview process was so convenient, and didn’t interfere with their current jobs.

  2. Use Social Media

    Social media sites, particularly LinkedIn, are the best places to search for the candidates you want. A well-written profile will give you as much information as a resume, but with LinkedIn you are not limited to active candidates only. Post job openings, share them with your contacts, and let your opportunities find the talent you need.

    Twitter and Facebook can be great places to post your openings and get lots of shares, but don’t forget to look for niche social sites that may be more relevant to the types of professionals you want to hire. For developers, try Github or Bitbucket. Chances are the people you want are active online somewhere, you just have to find them.

  3. Optimize your Employee Value Proposition

    Once you find the people you want, you still have to seduce them away from your competitors. While a big enough salary would almost always get the job done, most of us don’t have unlimited payroll budgets. Try to make the discussion about non-tangibles first, before you ever discuss compensation. Look for a candidate’s intrinsic motivators and emphasize how those needs will be better met with you than their current employer.

    Pique their interest in the job itself. Let them know how interesting and fulfilling it is, and emphasize the room for advancement in the new position, assuming you can do so honestly. Make it clear that what you are offering is career growth, and not a lateral move.

If you can do these three things, you can open up your recruiting strategy to a much larger and more productive talent pool than you would otherwise be able to access.