Toptal Review: 2 Sides of a Coin

Evaluating the Credibility of Toptal: Is it Worth Your Time?

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Toptal Review: 2 Sides of a Coin

With a screening process tighter than a closed can, Toptal seems a perfect solution for hiring designers, project managers, product managers, engineers, and finance professionals. Well, similar to everything, it comes with grass and weed. 

The question: are the benefits of using Toptal worth enough to overlook its limitations? 

Let’s find out in detail. 

What is Toptal?

In simplest terms: Toptal is a hiring platform that provides freelancing services for a set of specific roles (more on that as we move ahead). Nevertheless, the platform claims certain value addition in terms of quality work, the expertise of freelancers aligned with the platform, and the overall approach to meet the requirements of its clients. 

Mostly, the claim results from the platform’s assurance regarding the selection of freelancers who can join the platform: after a 2-5 weeks screening process, amongst thousands of applicants, only 3% of the contractors can get onboard. 

Toptal Screening Process

As the platform’s key feature is its assurance concerning the freelancers, I dug a bit deeper to understand it better. Here is how it goes:

  • Test 1: It includes language (English) and communication evaluation. 
  • Test 2: This stage is a technical round with a problem-solving approach evaluation. 
  • Test 3: At this stage, Toptal screeners take live tests of the candidates. 
  • Test 4: Here it goes all practical: a test assigned to candidates with real-world cases. 
  • Test 5: A continuous track of freelancers’ performance. 

Related: 15 secrets and tips to set you up for massive freelance success 

Fun fact: the platform is entirely virtual, including all its employees and freelancers working with Toptal. No offices. No headquarters. Just the power of the internet and a motivation to provide freelancing services which are a bit unconventional as compared to others. 

Starting from a point where the platform only offered software engineer services as freelancers, the platform has certainly come a long way while adding finance experts, designers, product managers, and project managers on the way. But if you need writers, consultants, administrative associates, and so on… you will have to look somewhere else. 

Nevertheless, there is an upside to this: the quality of freelancers. Yes, I am mentioning it again but here is how Toptal proves its quality claims: no-risk trial period. 

No-Risk Trial Period with Toptal

For every freelancer you hire as a client, you will have access to a trial period to assess the freelancer concerning your requirement. This, supposedly, is entirely free of charge and you may hold on to the work you have received during the trial period by the specific freelancer. 

At the beginning of the section, we discussed the limitation of roles that are available as freelancing services by Toptal. Well, there is a bit more to it than what meets the eye. While the generic categories are limited, they are widespread when you go vertically through each of them:

Services Offered by Toptal

With clients such as Shopify, Airbnb, Disney, HP, and similar high-end companies using the above-mentioned services, the platform is definitely worth exploring. Well, for some of us, at least. 

Things to Consider Before You Use Toptal (A Deeper Dive)

With a precise selection process for freelancers, clients are assured that anyone they hire through this medium will be highly qualified at what they do. Therefore, if you plan to keep quality as the only factor in check, Toptal is the perfect hiring solution for you. No questions asked. 

For the rest, let us consider other factors as well. 

Timeline

There are tasks that need to be wrapped up urgently. However, hiring is a lengthy process; at least that is how we have known it. This is justifiable; with activities such as background check, portfolio review, reference check, and so on, selecting the right candidate out of multiple applicants can be a task. 

That is not the case with Toptal. Not only does it filter the candidates for you, but it also attempts to provide you with the best results within 48 hours. Thus, if you need a quick turnaround, Toptal has got you covered. 

Verdict: Perfect platform for clients who need quick solutions. 

Convenience

As discussed, hiring is a tough ride to take. Nevertheless, Toptal does the most of the hard work for its clients. You can go through the candidates’ profiles which are highly organized and have all the details one would need: educational background, employment history, certifications, skills, and so on. On top of that, you can download the Toptal mobile application (for Android users) for better convenience. 

Verdict: Quite convenient to smooth out the entire hiring process. 

Also, read: How to evaluate freelance developers for your business

Pricing

Okay, with the quality – in freelancers and their work – they offer, budget is expected to be an issue for some clients. 

Deposit: To begin with, the platform charges $500 to all the clients. If you are not satisfied with the results during the process, you get a full refund. If you do go ahead and hire freelancers, this amount is adjusted in your first invoice. 

Freelancer Fee: While Toptal claims that every penny spent on hiring freelancers through the platform is worth it, given the quality of freelancers and the selection process to ensure the same, the time has taught me that paying extra bucks does not always mean extra quality; this varies from person to person – or pocket to pocket. The price range is quite widespread: $60 for an hour to $8000 for a week. 

Verdict: Not an option if you are on a budget. However, the no-risk trial feature is safe if you are financially flexible.

Is Toptal Right for You?

Given the factors mentioned above, you are the best source to decide if Toptal is right for you. To assist you with a bit of clarity, after thorough research and going through hundreds of reviews, I would say Toptal is best for you if you have/are:

  • The need to hire the best of candidates but may not prefer to associate the same with company payroll and benefits. 
  • Startups with extensive funding and in need of experts. 
  • In need of quality developers, project managers, and product managers on a freelancing basis. 

Toptal: Pros and Cons

ProsCons
A well-detailed screening process for freelancers. Mostly offers remote work. While remote working is a new normal, it has its limitations. When relocated, it is mostly in America and Europe.  
Smooth communication:
The process begins with clients requesting a callback. 
All candidates go through a language test that ensures better communication with freelancers as well. 
Comes with a hefty upfront cost for clients. 
No-Risk Trial Offered for better decision-making concerning the hiring process. Highly priced and unsuitable for small teams and startups with a budget.  
Experienced professionals in various fields, all in one place. This is a big plus for companies that hire freelancers often. Poor support system. There is no live chat option, or phone number provided (besides for sales queries), and not many questions are answered in the FAQ section. 
Speedy results. The Toptal recruiter helps you match with freelancers in 24 to 48 hours; with a supposedly more than 90% selection success rate. 

Key Takeaway 

Toptal is known to provide value to clients – in terms of the freelancers screening process, credibility, and quick results, and freelancers – in terms of portfolio building, great opportunities, remote working, and reputable companies. Therefore, if you need an extraordinarily skilled developer or finance expert, Toptal is the way to go. 

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