Finding Freelance Workers: Solving the Quality Problem

The days of people working for one company for their entire careers are long over. Working for many companies or clients on a freelance basis is becoming the new normal for many workers the world over.

Freelancing offers plenty of benefits — both for workers and employers — but it often requires new ways to find and hire qualified workers with technical skills in fields like engineering.

That’s where a company like Toptal comes in. Founded in 2010, Toptal connects thousands of freelancers with hundreds of organizations, including enterprise clients like JP MorganChase, Zendesk and Pfizer. The company serves engineers and businesses in more than eight countries, with a client base spread across more than 250 different areas of technical expertise.

What sets apart Toptal from other hiring or job search platforms is in-depth knowledge of its niche and the lengths it goes to in screening freelancers’ skills to find the most qualified candidates. 

“We screen at a rigorous, deep level,” said Toptal CEO Taso Du Val. “That drives a level of talent to our system that other platforms don’t have. We curate our network of engineering talent very carefully.” 

Toptal can connect companies with a single engineer or assist in building teams of engineers, all with no risk to the client. Toptal will find a qualified candidate, usually through its website at toptal.com/freelance, within three weeks — a quick turnaround compared with the one to four months of a traditional employment search. Toptal also guarantees the quality of its candidates and boasts a very low failure rate.

Reliable connections with a qualified talent pool will become increasingly important for business of all types, but especially for those needing freelancers with technical skills. 

The Brookings Institute reports that jobs requiring education and experience in science, technology, engineering or mathematics — the STEM fields — are among the most difficult to fill. Companies typically advertise STEM openings twice as long as they do non-STEM openings before filling them. 

With the number of companies looking to complete projects using freelance work, finding qualified freelancers will be a continuous concern for most businesses. A report from Gallup estimates that 18% of all adults and 28% of the workforce worldwide were self-employed in 2013. That number is expected to grow in the next decade. A report from Intuit anticipates that freelance work will become as common or more common than traditional full-time employment and that 40% of the workforce in the United States will be freelance by the year 2020.

Resources like Toptal can reliably connect with and evaluate a high-quality talent pool for companies. The ability to understand the needs of Toptal’sclients is built into the company, which was created by engineers and funded entrepreneurially. That gives the company insights that the average search service can’t match, Du Val said. “We have in-person interviews with everyone who comes into our platform,” he added. “We have engineers screening other engineers, so they understand not just technical capabilities, but the tangential qualities that make for a good employee.”

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times
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