Toptal review: Is it the best place to hire freelance talent?

by Time Doctor
toptal review

Have you ever had an overload of work that your in-house team just couldn’t handle?

Maybe you’ve experienced the need for a particular expertise that no one on your current staff had.

Perhaps you are looking for talent, but don’t want to hire someone full-time.

Maybe you want to try hiring remote employees to help with work so you don’t have to deal with all the costs associated with a new employee.

If this sounds like you, you’ve come to the right place. Hiring a freelancer from Toptal is one of the best ways to access global talent to help with extra projects.

The added bonus? You don’t have to hire someone to come into your office.

This post will present an in-depth Toptal review. First, we will cover how it works for employers looking to hire talent. Then, we’ll talk about how Toptal can benefit freelancers.

Hire top talent with Toptal

Toptal is an exclusive and global network of the top freelance software developers, designers, finance experts, and project managers.

Top companies rely on Toptal freelancers for their most important projects that they can’t keep in-house, or that they simply choose to outsource.

Let’s look at some of the top benefits of Toptal.

1. Access to the top 3% of freelancers

One of the biggest benefits of Toptal is that you’re guaranteed access to the top 3% of freelancers that apply to Toptal.

Toptal has a very rigorous screening process, and they go through this process to identify the best freelancers.

They make it a priority to ensure you are getting a good freelancer and so they make it difficult for people to get accepted to work as a Toptal freelancer.

Toptal employees boast that they are experts in their individual domains, and they look for great problem solvers with passion and drive. They look for the types of people they would want to work with.

So, where does the 3% come from? Out of thousands of applications they get each month, less than 3% are accepted.

You may be wondering what they look for in a candidate. Here is the criteria:

Language & personality

The first step in the screening process is a comprehensive language, personality, and communication interview. Candidates must be able to read, write, and speak English extremely well.

They also must have a good personality that shows passion and drive.

This is the first part of the hiring funnel and a little over 26% of people make it through this round.

In-depth skill review

The next phase is checking that skills match the requirements. They look for technical knowledge, problem-solving ability, and intellect through various assessments.

They only accept top talent and only 7.4% of applicants make it through this round.

Live screening

After skills have been tested, it’s time for the live screening. Screenings are conducted by experts in each domain. Each screener conducts live exercises that cover core topics within the candidate’s primary domain of expertise.

Only 3.6% of applicants pass this.

Test projects & continued excellence

Each candidate is assigned a test project to evaluate skills. Test projects provide real-world scenarios for candidates to demonstrate their competence, thoroughness, professionalism, and integrity over what is typically 1-3 weeks, and only 3.0% of applicants pass.

This ensures when you hire a freelancer with Toptal, they will be able to do what they say they can do. Not only do Toptal workers have to pass an initial test project, but they also are expected to maintain a perfect track record while working with clients.

Toptal does what they must to ensure you are getting the best of the best over time.

top freelance talent

2. Takes the guesswork out of hiring

Another benefit of Toptal is that it takes the guesswork out of hiring.

In other words, have you ever found it difficult to ensure you’re getting a good freelancer, that you’re finding talent when you need it, and that you’ll hire someone at a fair and standard rate?

It’s difficult to know this information when you’re hiring someone yourself. When you use a service like Toptal, you know you’re getting the best of the best and you don’t have to do any of the hard work.

Here are some things Toptal will make easier for you.

Eliminate the time it takes to hire

Did you know on virtual platforms like Upwork, it can take 1-3 months to find the right freelancer?

Additionally, if you hire someone yourself, it can take anywhere from 1-4 months. Crazy, right?

With Toptal, again, all the hard work is done for you. You can rest assured you’ll find the right freelancer in 1-3 weeks.

That means if a project comes up suddenly and you don’t have time to spare, you can head to Toptal, and get the right fit in a hurry.

Avoid recruiting fees

It’s true that recruiters will do a great job helping you find the right person to take on a project.

It’s also true that it will cost you anywhere from $30k up to work with a recruiter. Sometimes it’s worth it. Sometimes it’s not.

If you’re looking to hire someone quickly or just for a few projects, then Toptal is a great way to go.

The best part? The recruiting fee is $0.

Quality guarantee and no risk trial

There is a reason why Toptal only hires the top 3% of applicants. Because, they have to put their money where their mouth is.

When you hire someone yourself, use Upwork, or hire a recruiter to help you find a good fit, there is no quality guarantee.

With Toptal, there is. In fact, each time you work with a new Toptal freelancer, you will have a trial period to decide whether they meet your needs. If you don’t find them to be awesome, you will not be charged.

Not to mention, you can even keep any work completed during the trial.

Failure rates are low

Along the same lines, failure rates are extremely low with Toptal. With a rigorous application process where experts are testing experts, it’s difficult—if not impossible—for a bad freelancer to slip through the cracks.

You don’t have the same low failure rates when working with a recruiter or another freelance virtual platform.

You get pre-screened candidates

When you hire with a virtual platform or a recruiter, you don’t usually have experts pre-screening candidates.

This is the bread and butter of Toptal. At Toptal, all candidates are prescreened to make sure they can do the job you are hiring them to do.

No termination costs

When you are done with the Toptal service, then you’re done. No questions asked and no bills collected.

Get someone to fill the exact role you need

One of the best parts of hiring with Toptal is you get someone to fill the exact role you need.

For example, you may know you need a developer, but might not know if they have the exact skills and know the languages you need them to know.

Toptal matches you with the right freelancer.

Integrate well with with team

Let’s say you aren’t sure whether or not your freelancer will be able to jump on board and work with the project management tools and collaboration tools you use at your firm.

Toptal freelancers are well-versed when it comes to various tools. They can jump on board and adapt quickly to your company.


Not every developer speaks English well.

Toptal freelancers have to. It’s a requirement.

Reliability and flexibility

With Toptal, you have complete freedom when it comes to scaling your business up or down. Flexibility is the name of the game and they provide workers when, and only when, you need them.

No matter how much, or how little help you need from Toptal freelancers, you can rest assured the team will be there for you.

Straight-forward pricing

Do you know how much it should cost to hire a freelancer and how much you should pay them? Toptal does.

They give you a great value for access to their freelancers. In fact, according to Toptal, they have saved client companies upward of $1 million per year.

The added benefit is, with Toptal, you don’t have to worry about benefits, stock options, vacation time, unemployment, termination hassle, paperwork, recruiting time and expenses, etc.

If all you need is someone to take care of a project or if you want to hire a remote employee, then Toptal is a great way to go.

They will take care of all the details for you and you can rest assured you are getting a skilled, smart, reliable employee.

how toptal works

How does Toptal work?

We’ve already talked about the benefits of hiring a freelancer using Toptal. But, how does it actually work?

Here is a quick rundown of what you need to do to hire from Toptal.

Step 1: Submit a job.

The first thing you need to do is submit a job. The more details you can provide Toptal, the easier it will be for them to understand your project and set you up with the right freelancer.

It doesn’t matter if you need one freelancer or a team of freelancers, Toptal can get you set up. You just need to make sure to include those details in your job submission.

Once they get the job description, a team of experts will review it, connect with you, and ask clarification questions.

Step 2: Toptal matches you with a freelancer.

After Toptal has all of your job details, they will start finding the perfect fit for your project.

You usually only have to wait a few days to get the ball rolling.

You can count on Toptal to stay in constant communication with you about the progress of hiring you a candidate.

Step 3: You get matched.

As soon as Toptal finds you a freelancer, they will introduce you, and they will bet ready to start working as soon as you are.

Step 4: Remember there is no risk.

One of the best parts of using Toptal to find a freelancer is there is no risk involved. If you’re not 100% satisfied with the person you’ve been set up with after your trial period, then you can start the process over at no cost.

Additionally, if you are not completely satisfied with the worker you have been paired with, you will not be liable for any payment.

freelancers in toptal

How to get hired as a freelancer

What if you are a freelancer that wants to get hired as a Toptaler?

First things first, your qualifications typically must fit within these boundaries:

  • Front-end Developers (HTML5, CSS3, JavaScript, etc.)
  • Back-end Developers (Python, Django, Java, C++, PHP, Ruby, iOS, Rails, etc.)
  • Quality Assurance (Unit Testing, Selenium, PHPUnit, JUnit, Cucumber, etc.)
  • Designers (UI, UX, Visual, Interaction)
  • Finance experts (FP&A, financial modeling & valuation, fundraising, market research, pricing analysis, etc.)
  • Project managers (digital project manager, technical project manager, Scrum Master, etc.)
  • And more!

Typically Toptal is for developers, finance experts, and project managers.

You may be a freelancer, but if you don’t speak the language of computer, then you may be best heading over to a freelance virtual platform that hires copywriters, graphic designers, and other types of freelancers.

The next step is to apply as a freelancer.

As you read above, the application process is rigorous, but if you’re the best of the best, then try your hand at becoming one of the top freelancers.

Wrap up

It’s true you have several options when it comes to hiring a remote employee.

You can hire them yourself, hire a recruiter to find someone that’s a good fit or even scour one of the many virtual platforms like Upwork to find a freelancer.

What you end up selecting will depend on your needs and your budget.

However, if you’re looking to find someone quickly and you want a high quality employee at low cost, then check out Toptal first. You won’t regret it.

Additionally, if you are the best of the best, you can apply to be a freelance developer or project manager at Toptal.

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