Whether you want to extend your team of developers and hire top professionals, or you are building an entirely remote office and looking for freelancers, you will need to do your due diligence and find the best solutions to look for candidates. I can bet that you’ve heard about different freelance platforms: Toptal vs Upwork, Freelancer, Fiverr and others.

But how can you determine whether the candidate is worth hiring? Should there be different approaches you have to hiring junior developers and senior developers? How do you conduct multiple interviews and tests online, without any supervision?

The multitude of online platforms for freelancers can be quite overwhelming and lead to indecisiveness and procrastination. We conducted our own research, using cases and user feedback, and we are ready to share our knowledge with you. You will learn about Toptal vs Upwork as well as alternative options, like hiring an agency or software development vendor. This article will go over Toptal vs Upwork and compare them in multiple ways and dimensions.

Toptal: a Freelance Platform for Top Professionals

Toptal interface

Although the internet allowed us connectivity and access to a global pool of potential workers, the quality of the vetting process of most online hiring platforms leaves a lot to be desired. But not Toptal! So, what is Toptal? It is a company that is very proud of its rigorous screening process that lets in only the crème de la crème. According to their own statistics, roughly 3% of all candidates successfully pass their vetting process and get an opportunity to become a part of their talent pool. Working with Toptal, you will be offered exclusively top-notch professionals with extensive knowledge and years of expertise.

Unlike other similar platforms, Toptal values quality over quantity and rejects thousands of candidates to be able to deliver only the best prospects. Because of their uncompromising vetting process, Toptal guarantees a 90% match with the first candidate they offer you. Known as a well-established and highly professional team of experts, they work with big players like Motorola, Microsoft, Bridgestone, and even USC (University of Southern California).

 

How Does Toptal Work?

How to hire a freelancer on Toptal? Toptal doesn’t leave the search for the right candidate to chance – they actively help you find the perfect fit. Once you sign up, you will need to fill out a short survey and answer basic questions about your company, the project, and your requirements.

Later, one of the experts will get in touch with you to refine your needs and pinpoint exactly what you are looking for in a developer. Finally, during the first 24 hours after signing up, you will meet a candidate that will fit your needs almost perfectly, with a 90% probability of a match.

How does their rigorous screening process work and what makes it so difficult to get in?

Let’s break down Toptal’s vetting process into 5 steps.
01

Language and personality

The first step is a language and personality test where Toptal experts figure out the level of a candidate’s English proficiency and overall personality traits. They look for people who are not only top experts in their field but also express motivation, a can-do attitude, and passion for their work.
26,4% of candidates pass this test
02

Skill review

The second step refers to the assessment of the candidate’s intellect and their technical skills. Toptal checks potential workers’ problem-solving, analytical, and professional skills, whereby they choose only the ones with exceptional results.
7,4% of candidates pass this test
03

Live screening

In this step of the vetting process, Toptal experts give candidates real cases in their professional field that they have to solve applying creativity, analytical thinking, communication skills, and of course, experience.
3,6% of candidates pass this test
04

Test projects

Here Toptal goes even further and gives candidates real projects that they will work on for at least one to three weeks. Candidates will be put through real-life scenarios where they will have to make decisions and show their competence, professionalism, motivation, and integrity.
3,2% of candidates pass this test
05

Ongoing communication excellence

This is not a step per se, more of an overall evaluation of the applicant’s communication skills and approach. Toptal only accepts candidates who show impeccable communication competence, both with clients and Toptal experts.
3,0% of candidates pass this test and become proud freelancers in Toptal’s pool of talent.

In competition, Toptal vs. Upwork we can see that Toptal has a better process of developers validation. Keep reading to find out how it works in Upwork.

 

Toptal: Pros and Cons

Pros Cons
A rigorous screening process eliminates everyone who is not the best of the best. High quality comes with a high price tag. Expect to pay about $1000 per day for these top-notch freelancers.
A great platform that helps recruiters manage and oversee every step of the process. Toptal freelancers, like other freelancers, do not receive any benefits or job security.
You are not alone in your candidate search, an experienced Toptal employee is going to accompany you at every step. Best suited for large-scale projects that require highly experienced professionals.

Toptal vs Upwork: When Should You Go for Toptal?

As mentioned before, Toptal provides the best developers, UX designers, project managers, and finance experts on the market. Toptal’s scrupulous approach guarantees the best hire, even though it comes with a large price tag. But is Toptal worth it?

Well, if you are on a tight budget and cannot afford to spend over $1000 per day, or your project is not that challenging, Toptal is probably not for you. So for such cases it’s better to use Upwork. Toptal offers candidates that can generate great ideas, apply their extensive knowledge and experience, and put your company on the next level. Companies like Google, Airbnb, HP, and Disney used Toptal’s services in their recruitment processes.

The bottom line is that for a regular, short-term uncomplicated project, you will be wasting money on an overqualified staff and process.

 

Feedback from Toptal Users

Although Toptal offers a great service by selecting the most capable candidates, some users do stay unsatisfied. So, what is the verdict? Is Toptal worth it? There is a number of negative reviews about Toptal services:

“Their hourly rate is 100 USD+
Chose to go with England based Cloud Devs instead.
Won’t recommend it at all”

Feedback from users

But most of them are very positive. Many hiring companies shared an overall positive experience with working with Toptal and rated this platform with 4 and 5 stars.

“We had a great experience with Toptal. The assigned talent has been responsive and completed the job successfully with little friction and supervision. We’ll use Toptal services in the future when needed.”

We have investigated Toptal’s screening process, values, pros and cons, and even user reviews. How does Upwork perform in our Toptal vs Upwork analysis? Which values does it bring?

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Upwork: a Freelance Platform for Everyone

Upwork interface

Upwork poses as a valuable competitor of Toptal and demonstrates many advantages. Unlike Toptal, Upwork does not narrow their candidate pool to solely IT and finance experts. You can find any type of professional on this platform.

Additionally, Upwork offers three different packages that allow you to use their services in the way best-suited for you. The standard package offers the features of the online platform and gives access to a large pool of talent, whereas business and enterprise tiers go beyond this and include consolidated billing as well as contracting and onboarding.

Upwork is a far more flexible platform that will fit the needs of both large corporations, and also fulfill the needs of a small startup. Similar to Toptal, Upwork serves as a pool for remote job seekers and also offers a variety of online payment options such as PayPal, Payoneer, and many more. Their platform is designed specifically to match employers with potential candidates, which makes it a perfect tool for finding a freelancer for hire.

 

Toptal vs Upwork: How Does Upwork Work?

Upwork’s signup process is much easier and clearer than Toptal’s rigorous screening.
01

Sign Up

An applicant simply gets an account on their website or application, fills out personal, educational, and professional information, and sets up the account. Applicants’ accounts have to look professional, have detailed information about work experience, salary expectations, educational background, and an introduction letter.
02

Waiting for Approval

Although Upwork does not officially disclose its approval rates, recent reviews have shown that the vetting process has been getting more precise and scrupulous. In order to pass the examination conducted mainly by a built-in algorithm, applicants need to provide a lot of information about themselves as well as the right set of skills. A candidate might be rejected only because Upwork already has enough professionals in this field and does not want to overload the system with similar specialists.
03

Finishing Up The Profile

If the approval comes through and the user is allowed to offer their services, they can fine-tune their profiles. Applicants can also select their expertise level, from entry-level, intermediate up to expert. On top of that, Upwork calculates the range of the rate an applicant can get for a certain skill and expertise level.
04

Passing Qualification Tests

To make themselves more desirable, applicants can prove their skills by taking skill tests right in the system: English test, HTML test, CSS test, and many more.

So, how to hire a freelancer on Upwork? Upwork creates a more capitalistic approach to its services. Applicants create profiles, list their best qualities and skills, and sell their services at a certain price. They can also apply for listed jobs and propose a rate for which they will be ready to do this job. Potential employers then look over all the offers, consider them, and choose the best quality/rate ratio for their project.

 

Upwork: Pros and Cons

How does Upwork do in the Upwork vs Toptal competition?

Pros Cons
Upwork is by far the most popular freelance marketplace with 12 million active freelancer accounts. Upwork chooses quantity over quality which leads to the saturation of low-quality freelancers and a lack of experts who are constantly over-bid on.
A broad selection of skills that can be refined to a very specific job or a wide range of skills. Due to a very superficial verification process, Upwork lets in people with bad intentions which leads to a rise in scams.
Due to the bidding system, you will be able to find a candidate at a lower price. Candidates are not being vetted resulting in a poor quality of freelancers.
Upwork ensures safe transactions by freezing your money before the task has been completed. Poor customer support and company detachment from the hiring process lead to frustration on both sides.

Toptal vs Upwork: When Should You Go for Upwork?

In which cases does Upwork win in the Toptal vs Upwork competition? Upwork offers a far larger pool of candidates, allowing less-experienced workers and graduates to apply and find entry-level positions. If you have a tight budget or your project is not very challenging and does not require years of experience, Upwork is the perfect marketplace for you. By posting your job offer and collecting different bids, you will be able to select the candidate who will meet both your professional and financial requirements.

One of Upwork’s greatest strategies is long-term working with the same freelancer. It will be beneficial for both: knowing the skills of the freelancer, you will know what to expect whereas the freelancer will benefit from smaller fees from Upwork.

 

Toptal vs Upwork: Feedback from Users

As with every service, you can find tons of positive reviews as well as a significant amount of complaints. Overall though, the rating that platforms like Glassdoor and Indeed gives to Upwork is between 4 and 4.2 stars.

Upwork feedbacks

“Upwork offers ZERO customer service and will loop you in circles with a robot who isn’t even artificially intelligent. It’s a much better idea to find the freelancers you want and work outside of Upwork since they offer no human support at all.”

“Upwork (formerly Odesk) is a really cool service that easily connects you to quality contractors from around the world. Are you looking for affordable labor to complete data entry or other black and white tasks?”

Both platforms have certain strengths and weaknesses, let’s look at them together and compare Toptal vs Upwork.

 

Toptal vs Upwork

Upwork and Toptal comparison

There are a lot of discussions about Toptal vs Upwork, and freelancers still don’t know where to apply whereas hiring companies do not know where to look. Companies are at higher risk here since they are the ones wasting money on scamming candidates, poor customer support, or a bad pool of candidates. The Toptal review has shown its strengths and weaknesses but is it better than Upwork? Our short yet extensive Upwork vs Toptal comparison table will help you understand the main differences and make a well-informed decision.

Criteria Toptal Upwork
Price $500 deposit fees via quotation. 3% fee on every transaction, as well as, $50 monthly for the Business package.
Quality of Candidates Candidates go through an excruciating vetting process that guarantees only top-quality workers. Upwork has a superficial algorithm-driven selecting process that does not eliminate crooks and under qualified applicants.
Customer Support Supports both candidates and hiring companies at every step of the process, providing feedback and necessary information. Most complaints are about Upwotk’s poor customer support that does not get involved in users’ problems.
Features Only vetted freelancers, free two-week trial, talent relocation, IP protection, invoicing, and reporting. The job posting, profile browsing, proposal reviewing, file exchange, feedback sharing, work diary, invoicing, and billing.
Prominent Clients JP Morgan, Credit Suisse, Motorola, Bridgestone. Airbnb, Dropbox, GE.
Supported Devices Windows and Mac, no mobile support. Windows, Linux, Android, iOS.
Ideal For Large and medium companies as well as freelancers who have years and years of experience, and would like to work remotely. Everyone: small, medium, and large companies as well as freelancers of all levels. Top experts might have trouble finding a job with adequate salaries.

Does it mean that Toptal is better than Upwork? The bottom line is that you can’t really compare Toptal vs Upwork because they are so different and are designed for companies and freelancers with dissimilar goals. Toptal specializes in selecting the best candidates from all over the world and matching them with companies with big and ambitious projects that can afford them, whereas Upwork has a wide range of specialists of all levels, from students and graduates to senior experts, and matches them with companies whose budget does not allow them to hire an expensive worker and whose projects are relatively simple.

It’s not enough to compare just Toptal VS Upwork, let’s take a look at other options.

 

Other Ways to Find a Software Team

Nowadays, there are so many platforms where you can find an ideal candidate that we don’t have to stop at Toptal vs Upwork. Besides exclusive hiring websites like Toptal and wide-range platforms like Upwork, you can recruit a hiring agency or IT partner to help you with IT staff. But first, let’s compare Toptal vs Upwork to Freelancer and Fiverr – other prominent online hiring choices.

 

Upwork vs Freelancer: How to hire on Freelancer.

Freelancer is also a marketplace for hiring companies and freelancers. Being significantly smaller than Upwork, they do not exclude anyone from getting in and becoming a freelancer. They also charge a fee for every project but it’s far less significant than Upwork’s fee – only 3%. That being said, a long-term partnership will not reduce the fee, it will stay the same regardless of the amount of work.

If you are looking for more than one collaboration, you can take advantage of one of their packages: intro, basic, plus, professional, and premier.

Freelancer is available on every device and operating system except Linux and offers their platforms in English, German, Spanish, Turkish, and many more.

 

Upwork vs Fiverr: How to hire a freelancer on Fiverr.

Fiverr is another affordable platform to find freelancers. It is known for its great integrated communication tools that allow you to contact a freelancer even before you decide to work together. Although an average project is cheaper than on Upwork, Fiverr also extracts 20% of a freelancer’s paycheck whereas clients pay 5%.

What makes Fiverr stand out is their workflow process: instead of posting a job and waiting for people to apply, you browse through a library of profiles with a defined set of skills and look for a candidate for a particular assignment. Freelancers, on the other hand, can not only list every skill they have, they can also create packages. For example, a basic tier developer would build an Android application, for a standard package they would create an iOS app whereas, for the premium tier, they would build both versions.

 

Fiverr vs Freelancer vs Upwork

There is no point in comparing Toptal vs Fiverr since they are way too different, so let’s talk about Fiverr vs Upwork vs Freelancer, with their main differences in short:

Criteria Fiverr Freelancer Upwork
Fees for freelancer 20% 3% 20%
Entry for freelancers Easy, no checkups, everyone who signs up, gets in. Easy, no checkups, everyone who signs up, gets in. Medium, a built-in algorithm does evaluate users’ profiles, but very superficially.
Ideal for Companies that prefer talking to a freelancer prior to booking. Companies that are looking for cheap labor. Medium-size companies that need a good worker for a quick project.

How Does an Agency Work?

An alternative way of finding a freelancer is working with an agency. An outsourcing software development agency, or an IT Staff Augmentation company, acts as a vendor that provides you one or several team members to make your in-house team complete or build a new one from scratch.

For a reasonable fee, they will take care of everything: from helping you define requirements and the sets of skills you need, to executing the project, all the way up to creating contracts. A hiring agency will help you build a team of professionals and provide continuous support with payroll, facility management, and technical requirements.

When working with an agency, start by contacting them and defining your business goals as well as the skills you require to complete the project. Then, plan your budget to establish how much you are ready to pay for your workers and determine the time zones you will be comfortable working with. From this brief description, it seems like there are a lot of similarities between Toptal and a software development agency. But let’s look at the advantages and shortcomings of hiring an agency and compare them to Toptal and Upwork.

 

Pros and Cons

Pros Cons
Although hiring a freelancer is often cheaper than working with offshore development teams, agencies will still cut your expenses and save you time by conducting vetting and interviewing. Working with people from overseas, you will be lacking clear and easy channels of communication. Especially with a big-time difference, getting on regular calls might get tricky.
Outsourcing is a great solution for short-term projects that still require professional employees. Freelancers are also usually short-term but their overall quality often suffers.
The lack of an onboarding process makes the hiring process faster and smoother. Outsourcing software development might result in security breaches, both intentionally or unintentionally. But this can be solved by signing an NDA.

In Which Case Is IT Staff Augmentation the Best Solution

Hiring an offshore software development team is perfectly suited for a company that is looking for more than one freelancer and short-term cooperation. If you have a small task that one person can accomplish, a freelancer will suffice, but if your project requires a team of professionals with various skills and experience, you will benefit from hiring such a dedicated team. An agency will compose an ideal combination of skills that your project needs and provide you with a complete team. Also, if you are in search of long-term cooperation, a hiring agency will become your partner and continuously provide you with skilled workers.

Outsourcing software development can also be beneficial to companies who would like to delegate project management tasks as well. Instead of micromanaging and monitoring every step of the freelancer’s work, you can focus on the big picture and let the project manager take care of the entire process.

Although you can be involved as much as you choose, you don’t need to put in a lot of effort and participate in every meeting and call. Usually, vendors welcome clients’ initiative and involvement but do not make it obligatory, which gives you more freedom and flexibility.

 

DOIT Software: Who Are We?

DoIT Software presentationDOIT Software is a software development company that offers collaboration with you as well as dedicated teams to assist you. If you are looking for a company that will develop your software from scratch or extend your in-house team with coders, our team of professionals will deliver the best quality people. We will walk you through the discovery phase, build the best design to boost user experience, accompany you during the development cycle and provide QA.

As a team extension, we offer two scenarios: team augmentation and a dedicated team.

Team augmentation refers to extending your team with one to five highly professional workers who will bring expertise, competence, and extensive knowledge to your projects. Only 5% of all applicants qualify to fill this position, which makes it a very exclusive club.

dedicated team can consist of any number of workers that you need in order to complete the project. Their purpose is to compensate for any lack of knowledge you may have at your company and become a part of your team for a certain time period. We offer ongoing legal and technical support as well as assistance with operations and infrastructure.

Our technology stack will satisfy whichever requirements you have:

Front-End:

Angular, JavaScript, React.js, Vue.js, Backbone.js Ember.js

Back-End:

Node.js, PHP, Python, Java, .NET, Ruby, Scala, Golang, Django, C&C++

Mobile:

Kotlin, Java, Swift, Flutter, React Native

For example, you can hire a qualified frontend developer with four years of experience in Javascript, HTML5, React, Angular 4+ and so on. Or an iOS developer with expertise in Swift iOS, POEditor and REST UIKit. To discover more candidates, simply browse through the library and Request Their CVs.

 

Freelance Platforms vs DOIT Software

Criteria DOIT Software Upwork Toptal
Unique test task We create a unique test for each position. By offering a specific task but not revealing the requirements of the position, we are able to assess the applicant’s knowledge of best practices and general problem-solving skills. Upwork offers some assessment tests on their platform so that candidates can prove their expertise. However, these assessments are very vague and too general. Despite the rigorous vetting process, Toptal also considers the candidate’s overall impression, skills, working approach, and communication competence.
Code check The test will be evaluated twice: first by a QA manager, followed by a senior developer. Assessments are designed as multiple-choice, which means that they will be checked by a computer. A team of professionals evaluates skills at every step of the process.
Tech interview The final stage is an interview with the Senior Software Developer and Senior Project Manager where other skills will be evaluated. There is not a virtual or live interview with candidates at any stage. Toptal has a long and extensive 5-step vetting process that involves a lot of communication with the company’s staff.
Hiring a Team DOIT Software allows you to build a team of professionals with the exact skill combination you need. Upwork does not offer a team, only sole freelancers, which can create issues when working on a team. Toptal does not offer team players, but extraordinary specialists with extensive knowledge who might not fit in your team.
Outsourcing project management DOIT Software can also support you with project management duties, so you can focus on long-term business goals. Upwork does not offer any project management support. Toptal does not offer any project management support.

Conclusion

All in all, hiring a freelancer from Toptal or Upwork is a good choice for a simple, short-term project. Using Upwork’s algorithms and the opportunity for freelancers to build their own profile, you will find a good match that will fulfill both technical and monetary expectations. Toptal’s team of experts will find you the ideal candidate to make your in-house team more knowledgeable and add expertise and first-hand information to your project.

On the other hand, if your goal is to build an all-around team with professionals where each member offers their own expertise in a certain area, hire an outsourcing agency. It will help you set up a unique team that collectively will present the exact set of skills that is necessary for the project’s success. Contact DOIT Software’s staffing experts to get a consultation and start building your dream team as soon as possible. We offer full support at every stage, including ongoing support during the development process.

Frequently Asked Questions

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Should you hire From Toptal or Upwork?

First of all, assess your budget and the complexity of the task. If Toptal’s rates of $90 to $200 per hour are affordable for you and the task is worth spending this much money, then Toptal would be a great choice. If not, take a look at our research and you will find an option with the perfect rate/quality ratio.

How much does Toptal cost?

Once you hire a freelancer, you get a two-week free trial. However, a refundable deposit in a total of $500,00 will be charged by Toptal. After the trial period, the deposit will be kept and on top of it, you will be paying for the chosen freelancer’s job, from $90 to $200 per hour, depending on the candidate’s experience and field of work.

How much does Upwork cost?

The Standard version of Upwork is free of charge, whereas the business and enterprise tiers that open more features, start with $50.00 per month. As a processing fee, you will pay 3% of each transaction between you and the freelancer, whereas the worker will pay up to 20% for each project.

Where can I hire qualified developers?

Toptal vs Upwork vs Freelancer vs Fiverr

  • Toptal is for big ambitious projects.
  • Upwork to get access to the widest pool of candidates in the world.
  • Freelancer to find cheap and junior staff to complete easy and mundane tasks.
  • Fiverr to browse through profiles and directly connect with freelancers.

Read more about Toptal vs Upwork vs Fiverr as well as Toptal vs Upwork in our article.

VITALY MAKHOV,
CEO @ DOIT SOFTWARE
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