Toptal’s main edge is its pool of pre-screened freelancers. While most job boards and freelancer marketplaces allow anyone to create a profile, Toptal uses its screened freelancer database to ensure that companies only hire the “top 3% of freelance talent.” This does not necessarily mean that they hire the top 3% of the world’s talent but more so that they accept less than 3% of the applications they get. Toptal is expensive, but is it worth the cost? We will find out in this Toptal review.
There are plenty of talented freelancers who won’t apply to Toptal, but you get the idea. The essential concept is that freelancers must pass a series of exams, including language capabilities, skill reviews, a live screening, and test projects, which is far more thorough than the vetting procedure at Upwork or Fiverr which are pretty much just open marketplaces where any freelancer can make a profile. Toptal used to be a place where you could hire freelance software engineers. It has subsequently expanded to include freelance designers, financial specialists, product managers, and project managers, among other verticals.
Toptal’s business model is to essentially act as a middleman. They make money by putting corporations and freelancers in touch with one another. It’s a great idea that a lot of people like. While you can make money on the site, it will be difficult since you will have to compete with other freelancers who have talents and prices that are comparable to yours.
An applicant’s review procedure and acceptance to work for the firm might take up to five weeks. Toptal selects just the top 3% of thousands of candidates each month.
The following steps are included in the onboarding process:
This skills test is difficult, and you only have a limited amount of time to finish it.
The video call interview is used to assess English language proficiency, as well as the capacity to comprehend and be understood by others. The interviewer assesses the applicant’s soft skills, such as their ability to communicate effectively with the interviewer and interact with others.
The candidate is given a sample of a real-world project to complete in a specific length of time, generally 30 work hours.
Despite the fact that applying for approval into the Toptal system takes a long time, thousands of people try each month. They wish to work for Toptal’s large clientele at the top of their profession.
While going through difficult activities, an applicant shares his or her screen with an evaluator. The evaluator looks for speed, accuracy, and problem-solving creativity.
Toptal’s business model is straightforward. Clients are directly invoiced for the length of the freelance engagement. It accepts the payment, deducts the commission fee, and pays freelancers a reduced, pre-determined amount. Toptal gives freelancers the option of setting their hourly charges based on the recommended rates. These are calculated by taking into account criteria such as the freelancer’s location and level of experience.
Toptal invests a significant amount of money on marketing, branding, and sales – charges that add up to be pretty costly. This has sparked concerns about whether Toptal’s expensive fees are justified by the high caliber of talent available. Or whether the high price is just a function of the heavy overheads that come with owning a major organization.
Let’s begin with the pros first
A continuing excellence test and a personality analysis are both part of Toptal’s review procedure. They want to ensure that they hire hardworking employees who aren’t prone to drama. Toptal focuses on attracting and retaining top talent. As a result of this focus, their programmers are highly capable. A significant number of them have also worked for respectable organizations in the past.
Toptal’s in-depth understanding of both job needs and freelancer abilities enables it to provide customers with highly personalized candidate suggestions. Toptal evaluates your project description and finds people that fit based on experience, prices, and availability using a combination of AI and customer service agents.
If you don’t employ a freelancer, you get your deposit back. There’s also a free trial. They also hold freelancers accountable, ensuring that you don’t end up with a worker who completes half of the task, pockets the money, and then disappears. Toptal weeds out employees who shouldn’t be there, but on Freelancer.com, Upwork, or Fiverr, anyone can create an account and flaunt their “expertise.” Toptal, for example, does not hire anyone who fails language examinations, skills assessments, or test projects.
Now let’s have a look at those cons
The Toptal pricing for their freelancers varies depending on their specialty, location, and whether you need them for hourly, part-time, or full-time tasks.
This is generally way more than you would normally find on other platforms like Upwork and Fiverr. For most startups and cash-strapped businesses, this is too expensive. This is due to the fact that it charges huge commissions (sometimes exceeding 100%) on top of freelancer costs.
Clients and freelancers have criticized the company’s customer service as poor and condescending on review sites and social media platforms. Until you create an account and apply your project specifications, there isn’t much information regarding the talent pool. Basically, unlike many other sites, you can’t merely browse a freelancer marketplace straight immediately.
Toptal advertises itself as a scalable option for enterprises of all sizes, yet its recruiting contracts are rigid. Customers must hire on a weekly basis for either 20 or 40 hours, with no flexibility to tailor it to their individual needs. Furthermore, there is no cost-cutting option other than hiring freelancers for lengthy periods of time.
Hiring freelancers through Toptal for minor tasks that require little oversight and input might be overkill since the value-for-money isn’t always justified.
Because of Toptal’s exorbitant pricing and poor customer service, good Toptal alternatives have grown in popularity. They provide the same level of skill while tackling the challenges that Toptal hasn’t been able to handle. Here is a list of the top 5 alternatives you can use to hire software developers.
Gun.io, like Toptal, is one of the few platforms dedicated solely to the recruitment of software developers. When you publish a project brief, they provide exceptional customer service and a quick matching procedure. Gun.io, like Toptal, has a thorough verification procedure. They conduct in-depth interviews with their applicants to verify that they possess the abilities required to finish tasks.
Gaper.io is a marketplace that connects businesses with pre-vetted talent. Their global network allows businesses to leverage resources according to their time zones, budgets and rates, and even culture compatibilities.
Gaper provides the same quality if not better than Toptal but at prices that are way more affordable for projects and businesses across all ranges. There is also no upfront or hidden costs and they offer a 2-week risk-free trial as well!
A Tech Stack is a set of tools developers use to make an application. It consists of software applications, frameworks, and programming languages that realize some aspects of the program. Structure-wise, the tech stack consists of two equal elements.
Lemon.io (previously Coding Ninjas) is a freelance marketplace that mostly employs programmers from Eastern Europe. They have a thorough verification procedure in place to ensure that you are matched with the finest developers for your project. They are one of the greatest Toptal alternatives on this list because of their constant quality. One of the coolest features of their website is that you may get a free quotation with no strings attached. There is no commitment to employ the developer if it is not the correct fit for you.
Upwork’s imbalanced freelancer-to-project ratio is one of its most serious flaws. In comparison to the number of tasks published, the site has a large number of freelancers.
Due to the high level of competition, freelancers must offer lower hourly rates in order to secure business. While this may sound appealing to you as a hiring manager, the chances of obtaining high-quality freelancers at such cheap rates tend to shrink.
We have written more in detail about 23 alternatives and their pricing comparisons in a detailed guide about toptal alternatives.
Toptal has carved out a position for itself in the developer marketplace, but we’ve observed a few major flaws that might drive many hirers and hirees away from the site. To begin, it’s typically more expensive than many other prominent freelancer markets, so consider whether Toptal’s vetting procedure and skill pool are worth the investment. The lack of transparency in the billing procedure is another important concern. Clients want precise information on how much is spent on what in order to optimize expenditures.
It’s also not as simple as jumping right in and looking at the available talent, since you’ll need to go through Toptal’s sales funnel and deposit $500 to get started. Remember, if you decide not to proceed with the project, the deposit is refunded. However, compared to other sites that allow you to start looking for freelancers immediately, getting started with Toptal requires more of a commitment.
Toptal has an average 4-star rating on Glassdoor but that being said, the majority of people have mentioned remote work and the flexibility that comes with it, as a positive factor but have also stated that that’s the case with most tech companies now especially after covid.
From a developer’s perspective it’s rather hard getting into Toptal something that has raised concerns for many companies as well as developers. Toptal does not hire the top 3% of all amazing talent rather only allows 3% of its applicant pool to pass through its rigorous testing.
This leaves a lot of really good talent out.
With its screening procedure and regularity, Toptal has created a name for itself. However, most businesses cannot afford to hire from Toptal. Even more so in many underdeveloped areas, where Toptal does not even operate. This is because Toptal charges exorbitant commissions on top of freelancer costs (many times upwards of 100 percent ).
Due to the increased popularity of remote working, distributed teams, and a flexible workforce, the market for freelance employees is expanding. This has aided the development of new cutting-edge solutions, ranging from pure bidding marketplaces to strong verified talent networks.
1. You upload your resume and basic information
2. This is followed by a skills based assessment
3. Once you clear the assessment you are interviewed before making into the final pool