More and more talented people out there are finding happiness with full-time freelancing. For companies, that’s great, as they can bring in people on limited runs to help execute on specific projects. But as more and more people enter the world of freelancing, and more and more companies look to work with independent contractors, identifying talent can be an issue.
That’s where Toptal steps in. While companies may not be able to spend weeks or more screening freelance talent for every project, Toptal does just that, allowing only the very best freelancers on their platform.
In this article, we’ll give a brief guide to Toptal, and explain why a company might want to hire them. We’ll showcase the different types of freelancers they work with, and compare Toptal to a few of its main competitors. At the end of the article, you’ll have a good idea if Toptal is the right partner for you in finding and bringing on freelance talent.
What Is Toptal?
Toptal was formed in 2010 by co-founders Taso Du Val and Breanden Beneschott, and its name is a shortened version of “top talent.” That was their founding principle and what guides the company to this day — they wanted to build a freelance platform that only offered the best talent that was out there.
Through an intense screening process, Toptal takes weeks vetting the best talent out there in a select number of fields. Top companies in Silicon Valley and beyond have turned to them for this reason. For limited projects, companies know that they can avoid the time spent building a team of expert freelancers, and simply visit www.toptal.com to find talent quickly. Toptal’s team practices remote work. The co-founders are based in Hungary, but its employees and freelancers are located both in the United States and abroad.
Toptal originally focused just on coders, but now offers graphic designers and project managers as well. They also somewhat recently began offering financial modeling services.
Companies are also given a no-risk trial period with a freelancer (or team of freelancers), to make sure they are up to the task and producing good work. If the work isn’t up to snuff, clients are given the option to have Toptal find new talent, or walk away at no cost.
Why You Should Hire From Toptal
Toptal specializes in building freelance teams to execute on set projects for a company. This freelance team can be as small as one financial expert running a model to look at net profitability, or as large as an entire team of coders, designers, and product managers working together to launch a new digital initiative. But why use Toptal over another company, or over hiring internally?
Hiring a full-time employee takes serious time and resources. There is scanning LinkedIn, bringing in resumes, interviewing, seeing how a potential candidate fits in with team members, salary negotiations, etc. But finding a qualified freelancer takes time as well. And building out a well-functioning team of freelancers, all working together to execute on one project? That can take months, or even years, to build out the right group.
Toptal makes the hiring process simple. They do all the screening beforehand, then listen to what you’re looking for and what you value in a freelancer. Then they match you with the right candidate or team of candidates. A process that could normally take months (or longer) can be done in weeks, sometimes days.
They Find the Right Talent
Toptal’s screening process is weeks long and involves multiple stages. They not only review the work experience of potential freelance talent and interview people, they also give them a rigorous set of tests meant to examine their problem-solving abilities. Potential freelancers can take up to six weeks to earn a spot in Toptal’s talent pool.
That month (or more) spent screening talent is time most companies can’t spend for every part-time employee or contract worker. Toptal does.
They Can Take on an Entire Project
Toptal specializes in meeting with you to figure out business goals of a project, and then designing and building a team of freelancers to execute on those goals. They not only offer coders and designers, but offer project management services as well. You tell them business objectives, they build the team and execute. And with the trial period, you get time to review their work and see if it meets your standards, risk-free.
Types of Freelancers You Can Work With
Toptal isn’t a traditional freelance talent site in that they’re limited in the types of talent they work with. They specialize in a few categories of freelancer, all there to help them execute on specific projects for companies. This isn’t really a temp site, or a site to find a cheap freelancer to get a job out quickly. Toptal wants to help you execute on major projects with qualified pros.
Toptal was founded as a home for independent software developers, and they maintain one of the best collections of freelance developer talent out there. They have front-end, back-end, and full stack specialists, as well as specialists in a variety of coding languages. Most have significant experience in software development, often at top companies. And all the coders undergo a rigorous screening process to test their coding acumen, problem-solving skills, and ability to work well with others.
In order to offer complete project services, Toptal has a pool of excellent graphic designers, all with strong histories of producing high-quality work that meets business objectives. If your company doesn’t have an in-house design team, they can take care of the vision for you. If you do have an in-house design team, their freelancers are all experienced at working with others to adhere to a company’s style guide and execute on a vision.
Making the entire project run smoothly are Toptal’s experienced product managers, who set deadlines, check progress, solve problems, and communicate effectively both to the team and the client. They keep top-level objectives at the front of their mind at all times, and make sure a team stays organized and on task throughout.
Toptal’s newest offering (though it’s been a few years since they’ve started the service) is qualified finance experts who can run financial modeling for projects, new business initiatives, or even an entire small company. If your finance department is stretched thin, Toptal can give you the reinforcements you need to make sure diligence is being done properly.
Toptal vs. the Competition
When comparing to another freelance talent platforms, Toptal offers a more bespoke service, and because of that, it requires a commitment from the client. Unlike other competitors, Toptal requires a $500 initial deposit that will then be credited to your account if you move forward. If you decide not to move forward, that deposit will be refunded. But this is Toptal’s way of ensuring that you are serious about finding the right talent, and serious about starting the process with them.
Because of this, Toptal tends to be a great choice for companies with a set project that they want completed. They can outline business objectives, work with Toptal to build the right team, identify the best talent, and then execute.
Upwork, on the other hand, isn’t as hands-on in the process. The freelance platform doesn’t have as rigorous a screening process as Toptal, but there’s still plenty of amazing talent on the site. You just might need to do a little more digging to find it. Likewise, a site like Fiverr has an even wider range of talent, from industry experts to total beginners, but they offer affordable pricing and no deposit.
The appeal of Toptal is they do the work for you. You describe what you want done, they take care of the rest. If you have a set project you want done and want the best people to help you do it, Toptal is a great choice. If you’re looking for a more affordable process without any initial investment, and don’t mind perusing through resumes, the others can be a nice way to find talent.
Hiring With Toptal
Toptal is a freelance platform that is dedicated to finding the best talent out there. With a lengthy screening process, they simplify the hiring process and offer business solutions to get projects done. While they require an initial deposit, they offer bespoke team building and talent identification, which competitors don’t. And they give you a risk-free trial to make sure you’ve got the right team. If you’re looking for a company to simplify the process of finding great freelance talent, they’re a strong option.