Don't Do It Yourself

Toptal Review 2020 – An Honest Review For Hiring Freelancers

Toptal review

What is 10x talent?  The term originates with 10x software developers.  These unique individuals have 10 times the productivity, quality, and business impact of average individuals.

A VP of Engineering at Google, Alan Eustace, goes so far as saying “One top-notch engineer is worth 300 times or more than the average”.

Toptal will match you with 10x talent.

Qualities that set top talent apart

  1. Strategic decision making
  2. Excellent communication skills
  3. Time management meeting deliverables and deadlines
  4. A team player with a positive attitude
  5. Initiative, determination, and perseverance

But I’ve found the opposite to be even more true.  One bad hire can cause a ripple effect of never-ending strings of software bugs, customer complaints, missed deadlines, a toxic work environment.  And too often the root of the problem is mediocre software design, sloppy coding and a bad attitude.

If you need 10x talent, Toptal provides experts in just about any field.  They have an ultra-selective screening process and claim to be more selective than Harvard and the Navy Seals.  Let’s take a closer look at how it works and the pluses and minuses.

Table of Contents

What is Toptal?

Toptal is a high-end freelancing website that claims to provide the top 3% of all freelance talent.

They have a rigorous screening process to only recruit the most elite freelancers. To give you an idea of the caliber, Toptal has hired people from Wharton, MIT, CERN, Google, and industry-leading specialists from around the world. Here’s some of the specialized freelancers you can find:

  • Software architects, full-stack developers, app developers
  • Blockchain consultants, data scientists, UX designers
  • Start-up funding and Venture Capital specialists
  • IT Project and Product managers, Agile coaches
  • Part time CFO’s, M&A consultants, fintech consultants, and financial analysts
  • And many more

Who is the Toptal business model good for?

  • Companies who need top talent but may not be ready to commit to a full time person on payroll.
  • CEO’s looking for an interim CFO
  • Start-ups looking for expert advice on M&A or venture funding
  • Teams looking for a full-stack developer that can do it all

Companies like AirBnB, Google, Disney, HP, JPMorgan Chase, Pfizer, and Zendesk have all used Toptal.

Toptal Review

Pros: Here’s what I like about Toptal

  • Fast placement process to fulfill hiring needs.  Typically it takes 0-3 weeks to find and expert fitting your requirements. According to Toptal, “In a typical engagement, in almost all cases we’ll introduce you to candidates within 24 hours, and 90% of our clients hire the first candidate we introduce.”
  • Slow, rigorous screening (that most employers can’t easily replicate). Only 3% of freelance applicants pass the process. The screening includes an evaluation of skills, English language mastery, personality test, and a thorough, real-world test project that takes 1-3 weeks to complete.
  • Freelancers (toptallers as they are called) must continue to maintain the highest level of customer satisfaction or they are ejected from the program
  • Fluent English communicators. Candidates must be able to read, write, and speak English extremely well.
  • On top of developers for every platform, there are lots of specialties you’ll have a hard time finding on other freelance sites like CFO’s, M&A specialists, start-up advisors, blockchain experts, and more.
  • No-Risk Policy.  You get a two-week trial with your freelancer. And you’re only billed if completely satisfied. If not, Toptal won't charge you for the freelancer's work during the trial.

Cons: Here’s the only things I don’t like about Toptal

  • If you only need help with a smaller project, Toptal may be like hiring a gourmet chef to make your box of mac & cheese…overkill.
  • If you want an onsite hire and don’t have an office in a major city, Toptal probably isn’t a good fit. Most of their placements are remote workers.

What does Toptal charge?

It’s free to sign up with Toptal. They first set up an introductory call to understand your hiring needs in detail. There is a refundable $500 deposit for Toptal to begin a search for you (to ensure you’re serious).

Toptal will then charge an hourly rate based on the freelancer’s qualifications (rates start around $60/hr). If you are not satisfied with performance within the first two weeks, Toptal will refund both the deposit and any charges for the freelancer's work.

Toptal Coupon Code

Get a $100 Amazon gift card for using Toptal (you must use this link to sign up and continue past the no-risk trial period). After you’ve hired someone on Toptal, email me (Geoff) at support AT to request your gift card.

Toptal Alternatives

Toptal is a great option to find elite freelancers. But if it doesn’t fit your budget, try one of these other great freelance websites.