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Hiring + recruiting | Blog Post

5 Best Toptal Alternatives for Hiring Remote Software Developers in 2024

Adesuwa Ebuehi

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Toptal is a popular platform that you will almost invariably come across once you discover remote hiring and start searching for a platform to supply your developers. It’s one of the fastest-growing go-to networks for short-term staffing, providing freelance professionals for various business roles. Consequently, Toptal freelancers have worked in many business sectors, from finance and e-commerce to product design and software development. 

This hiring platform has its strong suits and, depending on your precise requirements, may be just what you need. Yet, it also has its weak points, which may merit considering better alternatives. In this article, we will examine Toptal’s strengths and shortcomings and offer Toptal alternatives you might find better suited for your needs. Let’s start with an introduction to Toptal and what it offers. 

What is Toptal and How Does It Work?

Toptal is a global hiring company founded in 2010 by Taso Du Val and Beneschott. The company has over 4000 personnel under its umbrella, and they all operate entirely remotely as Toptal has no headquarters and has never operated from any physical location. The vast majority of jobs the platform offers are also fully remote. 

Professional freelancers from across the globe join the company’s remote hiring platform by applying, and then they are vetted. Toptal claims to only accept the top 3% of these applicants, which they then present to companies seeking to hire freelancers. To hire on the platform, you must sign up and request a hire. Once a viable match is found for your specifications, Toptal notifies you, and a recruiting expert makes contact to discuss hiring terms.

Here are some of the pleasant aspects of hiring developers on Toptal. 

  • The platform has a sizable pool of globally sourced freelance developers to fill many roles, from project management and design to web development and information architecture maintenance. These professionals are rigorously vetted and possess skills in many technologies, including Django, Angular, Azure, and SQL.
  • Aside from the inherent quality assurance in its rigorous vetting process, Toptal offers a free trial for all hiring arrangements, allowing you to test up to three freelancers simultaneously. The trial period for these arrangements is typically up to two weeks. If you’re satisfied with the developer you got, the platform bills you for the time, and the engagement continues as agreed. 
  • Transparent pricing on the platform affords you a reasonably clear picture of how much hiring might cost before you request a freelancer. 
  • Because it helps employ freelancers, Toptal is well-suited for hiring workers if your project requires schedule and team flexibility. You can only hire freelancers on a full-time (40 hours per week) or part-time basis, as well as on contract-to-hire.
  • Toptal can get you a freelance developer in under 48 hours, making it one of the fastest hiring platforms.

Why Should You Consider Toptal Alternatives?

The features we’ve highlighted so far are great, but permit us to point out some areas where Toptal doesn’t do too well. 

  • Toptal caters to the hiring needs of large companies or thriving startups with complex projects. If you need freelancers for a small or straightforward development project, you can’t get those on Toptal. 
  • Toptal’s transparency about its fees has the ironic downside of making it obvious how expensive the platform is compared to others. The developers charge hourly wages ranging from $60 to $200 depending on the expertise and job complexity. Still, before you have even begun negotiating for hire, you must pay an upfront fee of $500. If you have a limited budget, Toptal competitors like the ones we will discuss shortly will serve you better.  
  • Toptal is not tech-focused. The platform recruits and hires out freelancers from sectors other than software development, including finance and product management. Consequently, they don’t cover software development careers as comprehensively as hiring platforms focused entirely on software development.
  • If you hire from Toptal, you will have to handle onboarding the developer with minimal assistance from the platform. The same goes for managing your developers. If you need regular updates and close project monitoring, you are better off with a Toptal alternative.
  • There is no custom or personalized talent sourcing on Toptal, so when hiring, it may seem like the platform has a hammer and every requirement of yours is a nail. 

Toptal Alternatives for Hiring Developers

There are many Toptal competitors that may better meet your hiring requirements if the shortfalls of Toptal we’ve mentioned are problematic for you. In this section, we’ll discuss the best ones. 

Terminal vs Toptal

Terminal is a full-service contract hiring company that combines human field expertise and smart technology to provide a reliable platform for hiring remote software developers. Its talent recruiting focus is Canada, Latin America (Colombia, Mexico, Chile, and Costa Rica), and Europe (Spain and Eastern European Poland, Hungary, and Romania). The platform screens thousands of developers from these regions monthly, with only the top 7% joining its talent pool. 

Terminal is an excellent choice amongst Toptal alternatives for many reasons. To boot, it offers many of the same advantages as Toptal, including the two-week trial period, rigorous vetting process, and relatively fast hiring. It also raises the bar by doing a better job than Toptal in many areas, including the following:

  • Terminal offers greater flexibility regarding what types of projects you can hire for. Toptal can only provide you with freelancers for complex, considerably large projects. Terminal, on the other hand, can provide developers for small and simple projects as well as for large and complex ones. 
  • Terminal is both transparent in its pricing and affordable for hirers with a limited budget. It charges a small onboarding fee (no more than a few thousand dollars) and developer rates ranging from $4000 to $12000 monthly. If you’re hiring locally in the US, you can enjoy a juicy benefit of up to 60% cost savings in running your team, thanks to the advantages of timezone alignment.
  • Speaking of onboarding, Terminal handles that completely (hence the small onboarding fee). As mentioned before, Terminal offers a full-process hiring service, and developer management and monitoring are part of the package. What’s great about this is that you can focus more on getting the best out of your developer and save yourself the time and energy otherwise spent integrating or managing new workers.
  • Unlike Toptal, Terminal’s full process service specializes in tech developer talent. This allows the hiring platform to offer a more in-depth service than Toptal, including handling niche and customized hiring services. 
  • While Toptal’s one-size-fits-all talent matching is ill-fitted for catering to customized sourcing requirements, Terminal is much better at finding developers to meet such tailored requirements. 
  • Terminal leverages innovative technology in addition to its industry specialist’s top-notch recruiting and vetting skills, thus providing a much more reliable hiring experience.

Want to see Terminal’s developer talent instantly? View vetted engineers for free now

X-Team vs Toptal

X-Team is another fully remote hiring company with no physical locations. It’s a community of over 100,000 developers sourced from across the globe. It mainly targets software engineering talent from underdeveloped regions and communities to aid the human capital development of such places. Now, let’s see what selling points this hiring company has.

  • X-Team has a much bigger developer talent pool than Toptal at over 100,000. It also handles small or big projects, as the case may be, offering project flexibility and team scalability.
  • X-Team plays an active role in onboarding and managing the developers you hire. On its onboarding page, it explains that it does this to, among other things, bridge the camaraderie gap that tends to be more pronounced in remote working situations. 
  • The hiring process is reasonably straightforward and short, typically ranging from a few days to weeks after first contact. 
  • X-Team is fully developer-focused, which places it right ahead of Toptal in this regard.

Then, there are these considerations for which you might consider a different Toptal alternative. 

  • X-Team lacks the hiring arrangement flexibility offered by Toptal or even Toptal competitors like Terminal. It only hires developers full-time, so you should not consider X-Team when hiring for a project requiring a more flexible contract. 
  • Unlike Toptal competitors like Terminal, X-Team does not publish any information about its costs or pricing, thus making it impossible to compare prices with other platforms. 

CloudDevs vs Toptal

CloudDevs is a popular talent-hiring platform focused on recruiting developers from the Latin American tech talent market, just like Terminal. It pre-vets and recruits freelance developers and designers from this region, adds them to its growing talent pool of over 8,000 professionals, and hires them out to companies around the globe.

  • CloudDevs offers some flexibility regarding hiring arrangements. When hiring with the platform, you can go for full-time or part-time freelancers. If you wish, you can convert them to direct hires if you need to. You can also take advantage of CloudDev’s direct recruitment service to hire full-timers without the hassle of rearranging contract deals to suit a new arrangement. 
  • CloudDevs is entirely focused on tech talent, unlike Toptal, which has a broader focus and lacks specialization. Partly due to this, CloudDevs is better equipped to handle custom sourcing requirements.
  • Team augmentation services are available if you need them. CloudDevs can assemble an elite team of developers for you on demand while handling all the complexities of legality, compliance, and administration. 
  • Just like Terminal, CloudDevs affords the time savings of zone matching, potentially allowing you to save on some costs. Although, we must point out that it is unclear how much we’re talking about, as the platform does not publish that information. 
  • On CloudDevs, you pay hourly wages between $45 and $70. According to the website, hiring fees are pretty low, but those fees are not published. 
  • CloudDevs hires quite fast; once you request a developer, you get a list of prevetted professionals who might fit your specifications. You can get your new hire within 24 hours after that.

On the flip side, CloudDevs could use some work in one area that’s worth considering before you pitch your hiring tent with the platform:

  • CloudDevs does not appear to be involved in developer onboarding — it leaves the hassle of that process to you, offering only a short guide on onboarding developers. Terminal is a better alternative if you want a company that relieves you of the stress of onboarding new workers.

Arc.dev vs Toptal

Arc is one of the most popular AI-powered platforms for hiring remote developers. According to its website, the company has a global pool of over 300,000 developers and designers, which it has sourced to over 800 companies. 

  • Arc.dev claims to offer up to 58% cost savings on local hirings, just shy of Terminal’s 60% and way above Toptal, which offers none. Its hourly developer rates cap at $100, which is much cheaper than on Toptal. However, we must point out that this price figure comes from third-party sources, not Arc itself.
  • As a platform entirely dedicated to hiring tech talent, Arc is superior to Toptal in rendering that service. 
  • Arc hires quickly, allowing you to get a senior freelancer under 72 hours, just a day longer than Toptal. 
  • The platform offers all the hiring arrangements that Toptal does and the same trial period (two weeks for freelancers). However, it also adds permanent hires, which Toptal doesn’t have, and offers a three-week trial period for such hires. 

The other side of things on the platform involves the following shortcomings. 

  • We pointed out before that our price figure for Arc hiring comes from third-party sources; this is because Arc itself does not publish its costs. 
  • Arc relies entirely on AI for its matching and, possibly, vetting. Such a high degree of automation is great, but it still doesn’t match the joint effectiveness of AI paired with human experts. This is why a platform like Terminal, which leverages both, has a virtually flawless matching track record compared to Arc. 
  • Arc.dev is not concerned with developer onboarding at all. This leaves you with the burden of integrating new developers into your team. If you want a platform that takes all that stress off your hands, a Toptal alternative like Terminal is your best bet. 

Fiverr vs Toptal

If you’re looking for Toptal competitors similar to Toptal, then Fiverr is one of the top ones to consider. This Israeli multinational freelancing platform, famous for pioneering the ‘gig work’ model, gets its name from the $5 initial rates attached to tasks within its space in the early days. In 2020, the company launched Fiverr Business, a product that helps teams of workers at large companies leverage freelancers and remote workers to manage their internal workflows.

In comparing Fiverr to Toptal, the following strong points of the former stand out: 

  • Fiverr is much more affordable than Toptal on average. Developers on the platform charge hourly rates beginning from as little as $15. The hiring fees are generally 20% of whatever you’re paying the developer you hire. Additionally, there is some flexibility in how to pay your developer, as you can choose between paying hourly or upon approval (halfway through) of the task they’re doing. 
  • You can find developers for projects of almost any scale and duration on Fiverr, whether short- and small-scale projects or longer-duration and large-scale ones. 
  • Fiverr rivals Toptal in hiring speed, as you can get your requested developer in less than 48 hours. 
  • If you’re unsatisfied with a developer you hired on Fiverr, you can cancel the contract and demand a refund. If your project is already underway, you can still get that refund if you and the developer agree on the cancellation.

Now, let’s look at the downsides of Fiverr. 

  • Fiverr gives Toptal a run for its money regarding broad talent or career focus. In addition to tech jobs, the platform also caters to hiring everything from copywriters, video editors, and voice-over artists to social media managers, marketers, and business consultants. And as the saying goes, a hiring platform for all trades is master of none. 
  • Fiverr is only a marketplace for remote work seekers — there’s no vetting to ensure that there are only high-quality freelance professionals. This means that, unlike on other Toptal alternative platforms, it’s up to you to appraise the developers and determine which ones meet your standards. Still, one can at least acknowledge that this lack of vetting means you can find developers of any skill level you like, which is, in turn, why the platform merits its name in the first place. 
  • Especially If you’re hiring a Fiverr developer for some long-term project, you can rest assured the platform will not help you onboard them. 

What’s the Best Toptal Alternative Platform for Hiring Software Developers? 

When it comes to hiring remote developers, you want a platform that is affordable, reasonably fast in hiring, tech-specialized, and actively interested in making the hiring and onboarding process as streamlined and stress-free as possible. It should also have a broad enough array of developer careers and be able to meet any custom requirements your project may require.

As far as these considerations are concerned, Terminal is the complete package. This platform offers an unmatched hiring experience as well as some of the best client protections and quality assurances of all the Toptal competitors discussed. Each of the platforms mentioned offers valuable features, but Terminal certainly carries the day if you’re seeking the best service all-around.

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