If you're searching for a platform to hire a freelance expert, you've likely come across Toptal. While Toptal is recognized for its highly skilled talent with backgrounds at major tech companies like IBM or Microsoft, it's not exclusively focused on software development and connects companies with specialists in various fields.
For niche tech companies, startups, or newly-launched projects, Toptal may not be the ideal solution, especially if you have a limited budget, require cost-effective developers from specific locations, need to hire for niche tech stacks like C++, Rust, Scala or GoLang, want to retain tech talent, or require dedicated long-term team members or full teams.
In this post, we'll provide a detailed comparison of Toptal's main competitors, but first, let's review Toptal and explore why a specialized tech recruitment platform might be a better fit for your hiring needs.
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Overview of Toptal: Are they really that awesome?
Toptal is a global talent network that connects businesses with freelance software developers, designers, and finance experts. The company offers a platform that allows businesses to easily hire top-quality freelancers on demand for project-based work or as long-term team members. Toptal prides itself on its rigorous screening process, which ensures that only the top 3% of applicants make it into their talent pool.
Process: When you sign up for Toptal, a representative from their team will have a conversation with you to understand your needs, goals, and technical specifications. After that, Toptal will match you with a freelancer within a day or so. You can then work with that freelancer on a trial basis to determine if they are the right fit for your business.
Pricing: Toptal is known as a premium freelancer platform, and their pricing model reflects that. The hourly rate you'll pay will depend on your freelancer's qualifications, specialty, and location. The range typically falls between $80 and $250 per hour. You'll also need to make a deposit of $500 upfront to get started.
Software development: Toptal has a vast pool of experienced developers who are experts in software engineering, coding, and digital infrastructure. In addition to developers, they also offer access to designers who can create custom UIs and graphic designs, financial experts, and project managers.
👍Pros of Toptal
- Vetted developers. Toptal has a rigorous 4-phase vetting process for all its candidates, which guarantees that they possess the required skills and experience. They are highly selective in accepting individuals onto their platform, which assures that you only collaborate with skilled developers.
- Quick access. Toptal screens and verifies all of its tech talent before presenting them to potential employers, which means companies can access a pre-screened pool of software engineers quickly. This can save businesses a considerable amount of time when hiring developers for projects of any size.
- Project specific pairings. Toptal takes great care to ensure that you are paired with the right freelancer who fits your needs. They ask for a detailed job proposal and project requirements so they can better understand your needs and find the perfect candidate for you.
- Minimal risk. Toptal offers a risk-free trial period of 2 weeks, during which you can work with your selected freelancer and evaluate their performance. If you are not satisfied with the results, you can get your money back. This minimizes the risk of hiring a developer that may not be the right fit for your project.
👎Cons of Toptal
- Not entirely tech-focused. Toptal doesn't prioritize highly skilled developers and offers a variety of freelancers instead. Their software development pool is limited compared to other hiring platforms, especially for niche programming languages like Rust, Scala, or GoLang. As a result, competition for jobs can be intense, but not all candidates are top-notch.
- Costly solution. As a big corporation, they have considerable expenses that are passed on to clients through high fees and commissions. This can result in high hourly rates, ranging from $80 to $250 for developer roles. Additionally, they may not be the best choice for smaller projects due to limited support and resources.
- Poor transparency. Toptal doesn't have candidate search filters or a resume database for employers to browse through. Instead, you'll receive an alert when a suitable candidate is found, and a Toptal matching expert will contact you to discuss further. However, some clients may feel that the process is opaque, particularly regarding fees. It's hard to know how much you'll be charged upfront, making planning and budgeting challenging.
- Developers are on you. Toptal is known for its pre-vetted pool of experienced freelancers, which is one of its main advantages. However, managing the developers is your responsibility. If you require regular updates and close monitoring of your projects, Toptal may not be the best option.
- Not the most suitable for small projects. Toptal may not be the best choice if you have small projects that require the services of a freelancer. The cost may not provide the expected value for the work required.
Toptal may not be the best fit for companies that require a more structured approach to hiring developers. While their model may work well for businesses in need of quick and flexible solutions, those seeking a more systematic process may want to consider alternatives to Toptal. Let's explore some of the reasons for this in more detail.
Why opt for Toptal alternatives?
Toptal has a good reputation and has made a name for itself by providing efficient services. However, no network or business is perfect and there is always room for improvement.
To be more precise let’s see the top 3 Toptal’s drawbacks:
- High overheads
Toptal has some drawbacks that might not make it the best option for small businesses and startups. For one, the cost of their services is high, with hourly rates that may be too much for some budgets. Additionally, their matching process can feel one-size-fits-all, and the significant commissions add to the overheads. While they have the benefit of qualified and vetted developers, Toptal is more suited to larger companies than startups.
- Limited tech talent pool
While Toptal claims to hire only the top 3% of freelance talent, they may not be the best option if you need software engineers for niche or hard-to-fill roles like R, Dart or Go. It may be better to use a tech-focused platform that attracts experienced software engineers from niche marketplaces. Additionally, you may want to consider hiring tech talent that operates in a similar time zone or from a particular geographical area due to language or cultural factors.
It's important to keep in mind that even top freelancers are still freelancers. They may work on multiple projects simultaneously, which could affect their availability and attention to your project. If you want dedicated software developers who will become part of your team, you may need to look elsewhere.
- Inflexible, less-personalized hiring
Toptal follows a multi-step process that spans over one to three weeks before starting the hiring process. Their customer service has several points of contact to ensure that clients receive tailored support. However, this process may take longer than anticipated, and customer service may not be available at all times.
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Now that you have some basic understanding of Toptal, let’s dive into Toptal alternatives that will help fulfill your remote hiring needs.
Index.dev is a tech recruitment platform that specializes in hiring high-performing software engineers and only offers senior-level industry experts. The platform vets its developers through a five-step process, from reviewing resumes to checking soft and hard skills. The platform carries out tests in 5 areas: Code; Language and communication; Test of technology skills; Personality and reliability evaluation and finally a Testing project to prevent any potential risks for clients.
The Index.dev tech talent is expert in the following roles:
- Full-stack developers
- Front-end developers
- Back-end developers
- AI/ML engineers
- DevOps engineers
- Database engineers
- Software architect
- Data scientists
- Project manager
- UI/UX designer
These engineers are experts in practically any programming language under the sun, including:
- Ruby on Rails
Its tech talent is rigorously vetted and meet the following requirements:
- Senior-level professionals
- Confident English speaker
- Availability for full-time, long-term engagements
- Experience with remote work in fast-paced environments
- Adjusted work schedule for better time overlap
- Certifications & 6+ years of overall development experience
- 3-4 years of expertise in a particular tech stack or field
- Excellent soft skills and fitting culture
The main selling point: Index.dev is a tech recruitment platform that specializes in offering fully remote developers for both short-term and long-term projects. Index.dev’s transparent vetting process ensures that only pre-vetted engineers are presented to clients. Index.dev can assist with recruiting remote full-time permanent team members, as well as hiring an entire remote team. Additionally, Index.dev can help companies build a co-located remote hub with their preferred time zone in mind.
Tech talent: Index.dev is solely a platform for senior tech talent, including software developers, database engineers, data scientists, AI/ML/VR experts, Cybersecurity professionals, QAs, and UI/UX designers who specialize in 100+ programming languages or frameworks. There are about 10,000 pre-vetted engineers registered on the platform coming from hot tech talent hubs of Central Eastern Europe and LatAm (Poland, Serbia, Romania, Slovakia, Ukraine, Albania, Brazil, and Argentina).
Hiring on Index.dev: After signing up for an account with Index.dev, you'll speak with your account manager to discuss your business objectives and technical requirements. Index.dev will then offer you a shortlist of hand-picked candidates from their pool of vetted developers to employ within 24 to 72 hours. For permanent hires, Index.dev will assess your needs and pair you with pre-vetted developers. You'll interview the matched candidates and select whom to employ, and Index.dev will handle the required paperwork. Typically, it takes around two interviews to find a new team member. You'll have a 14-day trial period to ensure the candidate is the best fit. Moreover, Index.dev will provide a dedicated account manager to assist you in onboarding and managing your tech talent and handling payments.
Pricing: Index.dev offers clients zero fees or commissions for hiring, and their vetted developers from Eastern and Central Europe have lower hourly rates (while maintaining the same or better quality) than US-based experts. Senior-level candidates typically range from $60 to $80 per hour.
Index.dev main features
- Pre-vetted developers. Index.dev has a rigorous 5-stage vetting process, including code, language and communication, technology skills, personality and reliability evaluation, and a testing project.
- Rigorous candidate selection. Only 3% of software engineers make it through this process, ensuring that only the best candidates are selected for clients.
- Super-accurate matching. With a 90% accuracy rate, Index.dev provides super-accurate matching, and 90% of clients hire the first candidate suggested by the service. This allows for a better price-quality balance, as dedicated engineers can be hired without breaking the bank and headcount costs can be reduced.
- Robust developers pipeline. With a diverse talent pipeline of more than 10,000 engineers from hot talent hubs like Serbia, Romania, Poland, Ukraine, and Albania, clients can be assured of highly-qualified tech talent with a 95% retention rate.
- Cost & time-optimization. With each hire, the platform delivers 60+ hours of engineering time saved and lowers development costs by 40%.
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Upwork is one of the most widely used platforms for the selection and hiring of software professionals. It serves as a bridge between millions of freelancers and businesses throughout the world and has online employees with a wide range of expertise.
Upwork is not a like-to-like alternative as it does not offer the luxury of screening of a developer. Although, if you have the time and resources to screen the developer yourself, Upwork can prove to be a great option. Upwork worlds on a bidding system. Since its vast platform, be prepared to receive a large number of applicants. The applicants will bid their lowest price on your offer. The low costs make Upwork a great option for short-term projects and one-off tasks. Because in such projects, low costs are prioritized over quality.
👍Pros of Upwork
- 46,5 million monthly visitors - Gigs and talent are easy to find;
- Upwork offers free job postings, bids, and easy collaboration;
- Numerous tech fields and remote tech talent are available;
- Simple payment process;
- Talents often get hired quickly.
👎Cons of Upwork
- Not tech-focused;
- Emphases mainly on the highest in-demand remote work skills;
- Fewer niche skills available;
- Freelancers are restricted from signing up in some oversaturated niches;
- Commission fees can get costly;
- Abrupt communication;
- Initial 20% service fee for freelance hire;
- You are responsible for checking talent and their work;
- All the better features are paid for.
Hiring on Upwork
When using Upwork, the hiring process involves employers creating a job posting with a detailed description of the required skills, experience, and project scope. The platform then notifies freelancers who match the criteria, and they submit their proposals and bids for the job.
As an employer on Upwork, you are responsible for evaluating each proposal, conducting interviews, negotiating the pay, and handling all the hiring procedures. This means that you need to invest time and effort in the process to ensure that you hire the right candidate for your project.
Additionally, Upwork requires employers to follow and supervise the project until its completion. This means that you need to keep track of the freelancer's progress, provide feedback, and ensure that the project is delivered on time and within budget. In contrast, Turing.com provides a more streamlined hiring process.
At first glance, Upwork may seem like the most budget-friendly option with its 3% service fee. On Upwork, the hourly rates for software developers generally fall between $15 to $30, making it a seemingly cost-effective choice.
Upwork's large user base and high traffic also come with various drawbacks. The platform's bidding process can be challenging, and its security features are not sufficient.
In addition, the average start time for a project on Upwork is two days, but this can vary depending on the project's nature.
Fiverr is a freelancing platform where buyers can hire professionals for various fields at a starting rate of $5. The platform offers a range of freelancers with varying skill levels and pricing, making it easy to find someone who fits your budget. However, unlike Turing, Fiverr doesn't have any vetting process. It's the company's responsibility to assess the suitability of a freelancer. Also, Fiverr isn't exclusively for software developers or engineers. While it may offer affordable options, the cost is typically proportional to the quality, efficiency, and speed of work.
👍Pros of Fiverr
- 36 million monthly visitors - numerous of freelancers available;
- Great for short one-time or series of one-time gigs;
- Chance to find cheap services;
- You can create a job posting or search for talent on the platform;
- Extremely versatile, you can find tech talent in specific niche.
👎Cons of Fiverr
- Not tech-focused;
- Quality of tech talent can vary vividly;
- One-time fee of 20% cut from the provider of paid gigs;
- Freelancer-focused: clients come to the freelancers;
- Hard nut to crack to find high-quality talent. Fraud sellers and mis-hires;
- "Pro" option that gives customers access to hand-tested talent;
- Time zones depend on the location of your talent;
- You are responsible for verifying talent and their work;
- No guarantee of the quality of work.
Hiring on Fiverr
Fiverr connects freelancers with employers through an order-based system. Employers provide project details and receive quotes from freelancers. Although it is advisable to look through multiple profiles before deciding on a freelancer, services on Fiverr are usually one-off, small, and specific. Freelancers are called "Sellers" and offer services in three different price ranges based on the complexity of the task.
Fiverr offers a wide range of pricing options for software development services, from $5 to $1,000 per assignment. However, negotiation and communication with the freelancer are necessary to ensure the task's scope and quality. Fiverr also takes a 20% cut of the transaction value between the buyer and freelancer.
Some gigs may be completed within a few hours or days, while others may take longer.
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Freelancer.com is a global online freelancing and crowdsourcing marketplace that connects employers and freelancers from various fields such as IT, writing, design, data entry, engineering, science, sales, marketing, accounting, and legal services. It allows employers to post projects and hire freelancers to complete them, or freelancers to bid on projects posted by employers.
Freelancer is a renowned Toptal alternative because of its variety of talents. Depending on your budget, you can hire anyone from a beginner to an expert. However, this also means you must put in extra effort to get a good hire.
👍Pros of Freelancer
- 7 million monthly visitors;
- Works for both short- and long-term projects;
- A large talent pool of software developers and tech skills;
- Time-tracker allows you to manage your project on the go;
- Real-time chat between freelancers and employers is available.
👎Cons of Freelancer
- Not focused on tech talent;
- None of the freelancers are screened or vetted;
- Oversaturation with unqualified freelancers;
- Companies need to do quality control;
- Many spam bids.
Hiring on Freelancer
Companies can hire freelancers on Freelancer.com by posting a job with project details and requirements. Freelancers will then bid on the project and companies can review each bid and the freelancer's profile to assess their qualifications. Companies can communicate with freelancers through the platform's messaging system and conduct interviews to evaluate their fit for the job. Once a freelancer is selected, the company can set up milestones and payments to ensure the work is completed to their satisfaction, and provide feedback on the freelancer's work and leave a review on their profile after the project is completed.
Fees vary depending on a skill level but generally, developers charge between $60 to $100 per hour.
80% of projects get bid on within 60 seconds. However, we would advise you to wait at least three days for freelancers to apply to your project.
Turing.com is a technology platform that connects companies with pre-vetted, elite remote software developers from around the world. The platform uses AI algorithms to match companies with the most suitable developers based on their specific requirements, and offers a range of services including onboarding, management, and payment processing. Turing.com aims to make it easier and more efficient for companies to hire top-quality developers for their projects while offering flexible working arrangements for the developers themselves.
👍Pros of Turing
- Rigorous screening process;
- Dedicated account manager to help you throughout the hiring process;
- Dedicated support to ensure that your project runs smoothly;
- Time-saving: managing activities like payrolls and HR;
- Ability to hire developers from countries with lower labor costs.
👎Cons of Turing
- Less control over the hiring process;
- Time-zone differences & difficulties in collaboration;
- Lengthy vetting algorithm & costly tech talent;
- AI selection excludes any human factor in every phase;
- Scammy developers.
Hiring on Turing.com
To hire on Turing.com begin by listing the required skills and your contact information. The company will reach out to you for further details. Within a few days, you will receive a list of pre-vetted candidates who have successfully passed the AI tests. After that, you can meet and evaluate the developers selected by Turing.com.
Developer rates on Turing.com can vary depending on the skillset, experience, and location of the developer. However, the minimum hourly rate for developers on Turing.com is $60, while the maximum hourly rate was $200.
In just 3-5 business days, your company can find remote programmers through the use of AI assessment, algorithm coding interview, automized vetting, and the Intelligent Talent Cloud.
Now that you’re aware of Toptal’s competitors main selling points, it’s time to choose which one is right for you.
Here are your options:
- For the accomplished, high-performing and coachable tech talent, go for Index.dev. Add highly-skilled developers to your software development team with zero fees or risk.
- If you’re looking for professionals outside of the development field, opt for Upwork. The big downside to using Upwork is that you'll be responsible for outreach, interviewing, and selection processes. Also, none of their freelancers are rigorously vetted.
- For small tasks, and a low-cost alternative, check out Fiverr.They have a huge marketplace and can do virtually any task that you can think of. The big downside is that the responsibility of finding the talent falls on you.
All in all, if you strive for long-term hiring of dedicated developers with high engagement and retention rates, then Index.dev is undoubtedly the best option.
Index.dev is a one-stop tech recruitment network for high-performing developers from Central Eastern Europe, Balkans, Baltic, and LATAM regions - hot tech talent hubs that boast the most qualified developers. Each Index.dev software engineer that’s picked for a project is tailored to suit needs like:
- Time zone overlap
- Tech stack, framework & specializations
- Budget & availability
- Culture fit
- Remote background
Skip the early stages of hiring by accessing Index.dev's carefully vetted remote tech talent today.
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