Toptal Review: Is Toptal a Legit Way To Find Jobs Online in 2022?
In this Toptal review, we will take you through the basics of how the platform works, look at the pros and cons, and assess whether Toptal is a legit way to find an online job in 2022.
Toptal Review: Is Toptal Legit?
Yes, Toptal is a legitimate source for finding online work.
What is Toptal?
DescriptionOverall, Toptal is the best online platform for experienced freelancers. It requires a rigorous interview process, but if you're accepted you'll be paired with top-tier clients.
- High Pay
- Top-Tier Clients
- No Bidding Wars
- Potential for Steady Income
- Client Vetting
- Networking Opportunities
- Extensive Vetting Process
- Rigorous Acceptance Requirements
- Limited Categories of Work
- Lots of Experience Required
Toptal is a service that matches freelancers and clients who are looking to hire freelancers. Unlike it’s competitors, it focuses on a more exclusive set of work types and there is a more extensive application process.
How Toptal Works
The first thing you need to do is apply to be a freelancer. When you go to sign up, you are going to have to choose between five different roles: developer, designer, finance expert or management consultant, project manger or product manager.
Once you sign up for Toptal, you can start your application for the platform. This is going to take a number of weeks to complete.
For those skilled enough to make it through the process, Toptal offers a different experience than most other platforms. They will match you directly with compatible clients. Also, the work tends to be more long-term.
How much do you make on Toptal?
According to Glassdoor, Topal freelancers earn between $50,355 and $234,368 per year. Of course, how much you earn is going to depend on a variety of factors.
Like all freelancing, your income won’t be guaranteed and can always fluctuate. If those numbers sound high to you, there’s a reason: Toptal is a freelancing platform that focuses on quality above quantity.
There is a lot that goes into their ability to attract high paying customers. As a result of their high pay, they also maintain high standards for the freelancers they accept. If you can meet their standards, it has a high chance of paying off.
Toptal Review: Pros & Cons
High Paying Jobs
This is really what sets Toptal apart from its competitors. Since Toptal puts time into vetting their freelancers and focuses on high-paying freelance industries, your earning potential is quite high.
The high pay of Toptal is also linked to their typical customer. Toptal primarily focuses on working with startups and established companies, as opposed to individuals.
Resume Boosting Clients
Because Toptal really focuses on quality, if you get established on the platform it is likely you might find yourself working with some prestigious clients.
Effective, high-earning companies aren’t interested in wasting time and money on inexperienced freelancers. Many companies turn to Toptal because they can depend on the high quality of freelancers Toptal accepts.
Some examples of clients that Toptal works with include Hewlett Packard, Udemy, Shopify and Motorola.
No Bidding Wars
Unlike other platforms, Toptal employees are directly involved in facilitating the connection between freelancers and clients.
Employees of Toptal will recommend potential freelancers each time a client is in search of a service. After being recommended, there will be an interview to help the client decide if they are interested in hiring you.
This helps prevent bidding wars that can often drive down the rate of freelancers and make the entire freelancing process more stressful.
At the end of the day, freelancing work is never guaranteed. However, Toptal boasts that their average project length is 4 months.
Most freelancers would give anything for that kind of long-term financial stability. After all, one of the hardest parts of being a freelancer is the ever-present question of where you will get your next project.
It isn’t only the freelancers who get vetted by Toptal: clients do too. They vet clients by budget, skills and intent to hire. This is one way Toptal insures the opportunity for high-paying jobs.
This is another interesting thing that sets Toptal apart. The company provides access to 600 events per year for networking, skill building and mentoring.
Toptal is continually investing in its freelancers. This push for networking and professional development shows how much the platform values quality.
Extensive Vetting Process
Not only is the vetting process rigorous, it’s also long. After you register, you will be put through a screening process in order to test your qualifications. Toptal demands a high level of professionalism, so as a candidate you are going to need to demonstrate your ability to meet their standards.
The vetting process can last anywhere from two to five weeks. By comparison, other platforms just take anywhere from a day to three days to screen their candidates.
Some, like Freelancer.com, take less than an hour to set up and you can immediately start applying for jobs.
Rigorous Acceptance Requirements
Not everyone is going to qualify for Toptal. The high quality of the freelancers is what helps them attract high-paying and prestigious customers.
Going through a multi-week long vetting process doesn’t mean that you are going to get approved in the end. In fact, Toptal apparently only accepts 3% of candidates to become freelancers on their platform.
Therefore, the chances are quite high that your application process won’t pay off.
Limited Categories of Work
As we’ve already mentioned in this Toptal review, the platform only has five different work categories:
- Project Managers
- Product Managers
- Finance Experts
Even within those categories, there are more limitations that one might expect. For example, “designer” doesn’t mean illustrator or interior designer. It specifically refers to things like UX or UI design.
Having a command of Photoshop is not going to be enough to get you onto the platform, even if you have been using it for a decade.
Toptal specifically wants high-skilled workers who will help develop apps, website or products for big clients.
Even when you make it onto the platform, Toptal recommends clients to the freelancers with the most experience. While off-platform experience will help, people report that it can still take a while before you start getting matches with clients after joining.
Obviously, most freelancing platforms prioritize experience on their platform. After all, just because you report to have years of experience freelancing for clients doesn’t mean that the platform’s clients will love you.
It takes time to build up a reputation on the platform. However, if you are able to, the potential payoff is huge.
How do I pass the Toptal Interview?
The Toptal vetting process includes a live interview. For some people, this might seem like the most nerve-wracking part of the application process.
Make sure your English is strong.
Toptal will assess your communication and language skills. They will be testing you in English. Toptal expects a high level of proficiency. During the language portion of the test, they will judge your motivation as well. Remember, Toptal is looking for passionate freelancers.
While this might seem simple, apparently only 26.4% of applicants clear this stage. If English isn’t your native language, it might be worth it to hire a tutor before the interview to brush up on your skills.
Be ready to problem-solve.
The second stage of Toptal’s assessment involves a timed skills review test. They will present you with a series of problems you have to solve in a limited amount of time.
This means that it won’t matter if you lied about your resume. If you can’t perform the work, you won’t make the cut. 7.4% of applicants pass this stage.
Prepare for a timed coding test.
If this sounds completely out of your wheel house, Toptal might not be the platform for you.
Applicants report Toptal will ask you to solve two coding problems. You will have a time limit of 15-20 minutes.
3.6% of applicants clear this stage, so it’s good to practice beforehand. This is fairly typical of job interviews in tech, so you can probably find practice exercises online.
Complete a test project.
If you make it to the 4th stage, you are almost in the clear.
Toptal will give you a test project to complete. Completing this project should take you between 1-3 weeks. While it’s important to do your best, only 0.4% of applicants fail out at this stage. So if you have made it this far, you have a good chance of success.
After your test project, Toptal will take care of connecting you directly with clients. They expect that you maintain a high quality of work in everything you do.
The platform drops 0.2% of freelancers after approval because of performance issues. So make sure to always bring your A-game.
Is Toptal a good company to work for?
According to their reviews on glassdoor, 79% of workers would recommend Toptal to a friend. That isn’t a horrible number, but it does seem somewhat average. Their employees (in this case mostly freelancers) rate them 4.1 stars out of 5.
The number one con listed in reviews is the challenges of setting boundaries with remote work. However, if we’re being honest, this is something that pretty much every freelancer is going to have to deal with, regardless of the platform.
Also, reviews list “work life balance” as the 2nd most common “pro” for Toptal. So perhaps it’s all about individual perspective.
The other big complaints include the vetting process and the number of freelancers on the platform. To make this Toptal review truthful, we have to acknowledge that there are bound to be significantly less freelancers on the platform because of the vetting process. Also, the vetting process is what actually sets Toptal apart from it’s competitors.
Toptal Review: Bottom Line
If you have the skillset and specalization to qualify for Toptal, it’s probably going to be a great choice for you. Sure, not everyone is going to be accepted on the platform.
Those that are experienced and professional enough to make it through the vetting process, have a lot to gain from it.
If you are an experienced freelancer in a high-paying field, Toptal’s prestigious clients might be exactly what you need to push forward in your freelancing career. Working with businesses and start ups is often a much more pleasant experience than working with cheap clients that don’t value for the work you do.
If you don’t have the experience or skillset to qualify for Toptal, don’t worry: there are plenty of other freelancer platforms out there for you.