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Must read guide before using Toptal | Detailed Toptal Review(2022)

Toptal, which derives its name from the word “top talent,” acts as a middleman between organizations and freelancers. Its main edge is its pool of pre-screened freelancers.

What is Toptal?

Toptal, which derives its name from the word “top talent,” acts as a middleman between organizations and freelancers. Its 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:

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:

Timed Skills Test

This Skills test is difficult, and you only have a limited amount of time to finish it. About 90% of candidates are disqualified if they fail to complete stages one and two of this onboarding procedure.

Video Call Interview

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.

Simulated Project

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.

Screen Sharing Testing

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.

The Pros and Cons of hiring from Toptal:


Professional and Vetted Resources:

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.

Personalization and Project Specific Pairings:

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.

Minimal Risk:

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.


Toptal is Expensive:

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. Part-time employment pay between $1,000.00 and $4,000.00 per week, and full-time positions pay between $2,000.00 and $8,000.00 per week. In addition, you must make a $500 initial commitment to get started which will either be applied to your first payment or refunded if you decide to not move forward with the project. 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.

Poor Customer Support and ambiguous sales funnel:

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.

Inflexible Hiring Contracts:

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.

Alternatives to Toptal

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!


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.


One of the most appealing aspects of hiring on Fiverr is the speed with which you may find someone to perform for a low fee. Particularly for a pre-planned project.

Fiverr does not check employees for normal Fiverr services. However, if a freelancer’s feedback is too low, they will be removed from the platform.

The majority of Fiverr gigs will set you back $5. Fiverr Pro, a high-end freelance service, was also introduced. Only 1% of candidates get pro status, according to Fiverr. These hand-picked freelancers typically charge between $500 and $10,000 for their services.


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.

Cost of Hiring from Toptal compared to other sites

Toptal’s rates varies depending on the scale of the project, the geographic location, and the freelance developers’ expertise level.

Payment options: hourly rate, part-time, and full-time employment

Payment methods: credit card, PayPal, ABA routing, and bank wires

Rates: An average $40-$180 hourly rate for developers

Compared to other sites :

  Lemon.io Toptal Gaper.io Upwork Gun.io
Time to start a project 0-2 days 0-21 days 0-2 days 2-14 days 0-14 days
Starting Rates $40 $60 $30 $18 $50

Is Toptal worth the cost?

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.

In a review on Trustpilot, a client cited Toptal’s shortcomings in service delivery and customer assistance as “slow,” “never solves problems,” and “difficult to track down” among the negative ratings. The customer was particularly dissatisfied since they were paying “astronomical” Toptal fees.

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 reviews by Glassdoor

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.

Toptal reviews by g2

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


Is Toptal Expensive?

In general, Toptal is more pricey. In addition, you must make a $500 initial commitment to getting started (this will either be applied to your first payment or refunded if you decide to not move forward with the project)

How can freelancers work on Toptal?

If the customer loves the freelancer, they can begin working with them as soon as the contract agreement is signed. Clients are also required to pay a $500 deposit, which will be used as a credit to their first invoice in the engagement.

Is Toptal worth the price?

If employing quality engineers is a priority for you and you don’t mind spending big bucks, Toptal might be a suitable fit. Its recruiting method gives you a good possibility of finding a good developer for your project within a few weeks. However, you can also find top-quality developers in places like Gaper.io, Lemon.io, etc. without breaking your back


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.

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