Toptal Review: The Online Freelance Marketplace For Technical Skills

Toptal Review: The Online Freelance Marketplace For Technical Skills


This blog post is for informational purposes only. I tried to make the content in this post as accurate as possible, but I cannot guarantee that this post is completely reliable or free of errors. If you don’t know Freelancing is, I would check out my other blog post called Overview of Freelancing.

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What is Toptal

Toptal, which is short for Top Talent, is a LinkedIn owned company that was founded in Silicon Valley by Taso Du Val and Brendan Beneschott. They are both software engineers that wanted to come up with a global network that allowed businesses to hire Freelancers with high-quality technical skills. This includes computer programmers, software engineers, and developers (web and mobile developers). Some companies that use Toptal include large well-known companies (JP Morgan and Airbnb) and smaller startup companies. Some of the different pieces of software that programmers, designers, and developers at Toptal specialize in include Android, IOS, HTML 5, PHP, Java, Python and Ruby. In case you are unfamiliar with some of these terms, here are some explanations for each one


HTML 5 (Hyper Text Markup Language): HTML 5 is a text editor that allows you to create and edit written HTML text. HTML text refers to all of the code that is used to create and organize written content on a web page. HTML 5 is considered one of the standard text editors for coding websites.

IOS (Apple’s Operating System): An Operating System is also known as a software program. IOS refers to the software program (operating system) that all of Apple’s products use.

PHP (Hypertext Preprocessor): PHP is programming software that uses a scripting language for the development of websites. WordPress websites are examples of websites that use PHP. Scripting Language (also known as interpreting language) is a form of high-level programming language that improves the functionality of a web page for a user. A high-level programming language is a language that is able to interpret written text. PHP can be used to improve the formatting of content on a web page. An example of this is using PHP to change the organization of written content in more menus on a web page. It can also be used to change graphical displays on a website. PHP’s scripting language is embedded (built into) into HTML text.

CSS (Cascading Style Sheets): Cascading Style Sheets are files that describe the formatting used for markup languages (text editors) such as HTML. Within WordPress websites, the file which contains the code for the templates of the theme that you use for your website is a CSS file.

Java: Java is programming software that uses high-level programming language. The type of high-level programming language that Java uses is called Object Oriented Language (OOL). Object-Oriented Language is a programming language that computer programmers use to define quantities of data and the format of different sets of data in a computer program. It is used to simplify programming language that is used for writing procedural programming language. Procedural programming language is used to describe the steps in a computer program.

JavaScript: Javascript is software that uses scripting language. It is similar to Java and has many of Java’s functions. Unlike Java, Javascript can be used to modify HTML text.

Python: Python is programming software that uses high-level programming software. It gives users the option of using both scripting language or object-oriented language. Python allows users to use multiple programming languages for creating computer programs.

Ruby: Ruby is programming software that uses a scripting language (interpreted language) in the form of Object-Oriented Language (OOC).

Toptal Application Process

One of Toptal’s main goals is to hire the best freelance talent that is available. They have a rigorous application process and only hire the top 3% of all applicants that apply as a Freelancer. Their application process includes five (5) different assessments.

First: The first assessment assesses applicants level of proficiency in English. They also use this assessment to test for social skills and personality traits. Some of the desirable personality traits that Toptal looks for in its applicants includes enthusiasm and passion. According to statistics provided by Toptal,  27% of all applicants pass the first assessment.

Second: The second assessment looks at the technical skills of each applicant. Toptal reviews each applicant’s portfolio and requires each applicant to take a standardized test that assesses knowledge of computer science.  The types of questions that are covered in the test include algorithmic questions on different algorithms and problem-solving questions that assess problem-solving abilities. Approximately 75% of all applicants pass the second assessment.

Third: The third assessment uses each applicant’s portfolio and requires each applicant to answer a series of questions that are related to their field of expertise. Within this assessment, Toptal places an emphasis on each applicant’s working experience and their ability’s to communicate and be creative. Portfolio’s that have lots of work experience are more desirable. This assessment in the screening process is very selective and roughly 4% of all applicants pass.

Fourth: The fourth part of the assessment requires each applicant to complete a project that they are assigned to. Each project uses a hypothetical real-world scenario that examines each applicant’s engineering and design skills. This part of the screening process on average takes between 1 and 3 weeks. This assessment is also very selective and about 3.5% of applicants are able to pass.

Fifth: The last part of the screening process analyzes each applicant’s overall track record through the whole application process. Only 3% of applicants make it through the last stage.

Toptal’s Risk-Free Guarantee

Before you can hire a freelancer as a client on Toptal, you are required to pay a $500 dollar recruiting fee per freelancer. This is a deposit you must make before any work can be done. Toptal allows you to spend at least 2 weeks working with a freelancer before you decide whether or not you would like to continue working with them. If you are not satisfied with the work a freelancer has provided you with after a two week period and are not interested in hiring another Freelancer, Toptal will cover your expense and completely refund the $500 dollar deposit you initially made.

Toptal’s Quality Reassurance Guarantee

After you hire your first freelancer, Toptal allows you to hire a maximum of 4 other freelancers in case you are not satisfied. This only applies to Freelancers with the same job title. Suppose you are hiring a web developer and are not satisfied with his work. Toptal will allow you to hire up to 4 other web developers to help you find a web developer that is a good match.

Toptal’s Cost Structure

 As a recruiter on Toptal, the average cost of hiring Freelancers vary depending on whether you are looking for a freelancer that you want to work for you full time or part-time. These are some of the average costs associated with hiring Freelancers on Toptal. If you are unsure what some of these terms mean, I provided some explanations in the section below.

1) Full-Time Front End or Back End Engineer: $1,800 to $3,200 a week

2) Part Time Front End or Back End Engineer (Front End or Back End Developer): $1000 to $1,600 a week

3) Full Time Digital Designer: $1,800 to $3,200 a week

4) Part Time Digital Designer: $1000 to $1600 a week

5) Full Time Quality Assurance (QA) Engineer: $1,200 to $1,600 a week

6) Part Time: Quality Assurance (QA) Engineer: $600 to $1000 a week


Front End Engineers: Front End Engineers are software engineers and developers that create and use software for creating parts of a website that are visible to the user (client). This usually refers to a website’s layout and the graphics used in a website. A couple examples of software that Front End Engineers use include HTML and CSS.

Back End Engineers: Back End Engineers are software engineers and developers that create and use software to maintain parts of a website that are not visible to the user (client). This can include web hosting and web security. XML (Extensive Markup Language) and SQL (Structured Query Language) are both examples of software that Back-End Engineers use.

Digital Designers: Digital Designers encompass many different professions. Web Designers, Graphic Designers, and Special Effects Designers are all examples of professions that you could have as a Digital Designer.

Quality Assurance (QA) Engineers: Quality Assurance Engineers are engineers that make sure software is working properly. This includes running tests on software in order to make sure programs in software work the way they are supposed to.


Toptal’s devotion to good customer service and their rigorous standards for new Freelancers make it an ideal place for starting a career as a Freelancer. It is also an ideal marketplace for businesses that are in need of Freelancers.

I hope you found this information helpful. Feel free to leave any questions or comments in the comment box below. Please let me know if there is something you would have liked to have seen in this post or in a separate post.




1) “Webopedia: Online Tech Dictionary for IT Professionals.” Webopedia: Online Tech Dictionary for IT Professionals. Web. 18 Dec. 2015. <>.

2) “Technology Dictionary.” Techopedia – IT Dictionary for Computer Terms and Tech Definitions. Web. 22 Dec. 2015. <>.


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14 Responses

  1. Della says:

    Thank you for sharing the information. Toptal seems like a good resource for software engineers. I have friends who are in this field and may be interested; therefore, I will pass this information along to them. Thanks again.

  2. Santiago says:

    Hello, Dom!
    Thank you so much for this post, is very detailed and helpful for people that want to work freelance online.
    I think your review is very well made and covers all the facts of Toptal.
    I will surely consider joining them or another one of your suggestions.
    Keep up the good work and I wish you the best!


  3. Tim says:

    Hey Dom,
    I learned quite a bit about all the scripting languages. I’ve heard a majority of those names before but it was nice to get a clear definition of how they can be different. Scripting can be pretty confusing! Also, I have friends that are freelance engineers so I know where to send them now for some great information!

    • Dom says:

      Hi Tim! I’m glad my article gave you a better idea of the differences between programming languages. I hope your friends find my post of use to them.

  4. Kipps says:

    Hi Dom,
    Thanks for the informative post. As one unfamiliar with all these tech stuff. it is helpfuö to know the details about each programming language. It definitely is a place where you can find top-notch IT geeks in one place for clients seeking reliable Frelancers. I have made a mental bookmark so that, st least, I know what to recommend when someone need such high-quality services.

  5. MattyB says:

    Your Post about Online Freelance Marketplace has been very helpful to me. I have IT experience and I need to find some work online. Thanks to your Post I have a head start in accomplishing this. Most of all I love your website in general and have bookmarked it for the future. I will share it and come back to it for new information. I love how your site name includes “Scam Free”. IT focuses on opportunities that are indeed scam free instead of having to weed through all of them myself and not knowing which is good or bad. thanks again, MB

  6. Geek Hibrid says:

    This sounds like a great idea for those who want to focus on their passion for tech!

  7. W Tucker says:

    The site seems very thorough and even gives the definitions for words/phrases that you might have heard a hundred times, but didn’t really know what they meant.
    The subject matter doesn’t apply to me, but I would appreciate all the research done on the service, if I was looking for a Freelancer. I’m wondering if a brief comparison to other sites that are competitors might be useful?
    The presenation and structure of the article/blog was good and easy to follow. It was technical enough for someone who was serious about finding a freelance person, and easy to understand the information.

    • Dom says:

      Thanks for the comment William! I tried to make the post comprehensible. I don’t have any background in computer science and had was not quite sure how to explain the different programming languages in laymens terms. I am glad you liked the definitions. Comparing Toptal to other relevant Freelance Marketplaces is something I didn’t think about for this post, but is something I will consider doing in the future.

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