We recommend you hire freelancers on Toptal over ZipRecruiter because Toptal vets their talent for you. However, ZipRecruiter has more job candidates in more categories than Toptal. Furthermore, ZipRecruiter doesn’t have any added hiring fee if you want to hire someone full-time.
You can read our individual reviews to help you make an informed decision:
Or if you continue reading, you will learn the pros and cons of hiring freelancers on Toptal and ZipRecruiter.
Don’t underestimate the value of convenience on job boards. Job seekers naturally gravitate towards job boards that fit their needs. ZipRecruiter is particularly popular because it makes it easy for job seekers to find relevant applications through relevant sorting systems. For example, job seekers can look for jobs by location or by specific titles.
This means that you can get more and better applications for each job you post.
ZipRecruiter also offers several uncommon ways to interact with job seekers, including sending personal messages that you can write beforehand and deliver with one click. This can help you come across as more interested in each applicant.
This is a rarer quality than many people realize. Most freelancing and hiring sites cater exclusively to small and mid-sized businesses, which are those with less than 250 employees. In contrast, ZipRecruiter offers additional options and support for large companies.
By dividing labor and support between enterprise and non-enterprise companies, ZipRecruiter is more effective at helping employers of all sizes.
One of ZipRecruiter’s most notable qualities is how it can reach other job boards and post relevant applications on them. Rather than merely posting them, ZipRecruiter’s algorithm focuses on the most suitable jobs for each partner site.
This gives it one of the broadest reaches of any job board. This matters for employers because you can’t attract a candidate unless they see your job posting. In other words, it doesn’t matter how good your offer is if nobody hears about it. ZipRecruiter is better at this than many other sites and continuously adds new partners to help ensure the best possible reach.
Toptal’s claim to screen 3% of the talent may or may not be entirely accurate (I’ll discuss Toptal’s vetting process in a moment).
What matters is Toptal saves you time spending hours filtering through freelancers for their performance. After all, if Toptal didn’t have hoops for freelancers to jump through, then their available talent would dilute. As a result, their market differentiation would be… the same as almost any other freelance marketplace.
Many entrepreneurs hiring on Toptal note their support staff is very hands-on. Toptal also has a fantastic UI and billing process.
Toptal has a fast placement process. According to Toptal, “In a typical engagement, we’ll introduce you to candidates within 24 hours. And 90% of our clients hire the first candidate we introduce.”
Toptal sets high standards for freelancers. Freelancers must maintain high customer satisfaction ratings. Otherwise, Toptal will remove them from the platform.
A no-risk test project. The first time you work with your freelancer, you get a two-week test period with your new hire. If you’re not satisfied, Toptal will take the loss and won’t charge you for the freelancer’s work. (Please note: this is not a “free trial” in that if you accept the project, you will pay for the hours billed).
Toptal’s screening process 3% will weed out some quality workers. But it’s better to miss out on a potential A player than to waste precious time on a borderline freelancer who turns out to be a B or C player.
Toptal doesn’t have nearly the total number of freelancers for you compared to ZipRecruiter. But do you really need 12 million freelancers, or just a handful of freelancers to consider to get the job done? More than 100,000 people apply to join Toptal every year, but they accept only 3%. In simple numbers, that means they add roughly 3,000 freelancers every year.
That means rather than spending your time and energy vetting freelancers, Toptal does the heavy lifting for you.
Toptal is a good place to start if you’re serious about growing your business and are ready to invest in top talent at a reasonable rate.
The difficulty of using Toptal to source freelancers is if you are looking for someone to help with a small, one-off project. Toptal asks for a $500 commitment for the first project, which is fully refundable if you’re freelancer is not a fit.
ZipRecruiter has a database of 25 million resumes to fill just about any position you have. You can hone your search results by location, job title, previous companies, and resume freshness.
Furthermore, ZipRecruiter has a smart search function that allows you to easily modify your search results.
Finally, you can rate ZipRecruiter resumes with a thumbs up or down. As you rate more candidates, ZipRecruiter’s AI will match you with more relevant candidates.
Toptal uses a 5-step screening process to source the top 3% of freelancers:
Even with this level of screening, Toptal has a wide pool filled with a specific talent set. Instead of hiring any DevOps engineer, Toptal can help you find an “AWS DevOps engineer who understands Docker, Jenkins, RDS...” and any other needs you may have.
The dollar per hour will often increase when you need a specific skill set. But you’ll also know the freelancer better fits your needs than finding a freelancer for yourself on ZipRecruiter.
ZipRecruiter gives you the opportunity to add your own screening questions to any job listing.
ZipRecruiter provides six different formats for your screening questions too:
You can also browse their database of common questions that other users ask:
When creating screening questions, you have the option to turn the question into a “Deal-Breaker Question.” This hides all candidates who do not meet your basic qualifications. You will still be able to view these candidates in the “Hidden” section of your “Candidates” tab if you desire.
That said, you still need to do the screening yourself, which can be quite a time consuming task.
Since Toptal screens candidates for you, we recommend that you use Toptal over ZipRecruiter.
Hiring normally takes a long time, as anything worth doing should take time. But because Toptal screens their candidates, they can place you with a candidate in 48 hours:
If there are no candidates available in Toptal’s network, it typically takes 1-3 weeks for Toptal to locate, screen, and work with every expert.
With ZipRecruiter, you set the pace of the hiring process. That said, finding the right candidate involves:
Again, there’s a degree where you set the speed in which you hire. But hiring too fast will cause more damage to your business and brand in the long run.
Given the turnaround time, Toptal is significantly faster than ZipRecruiter when hiring.
Toptal does not charge a fee above their regular pricing. Instead, they add a profit margin above the freelancer’s rates.
Most rates you’ll pay are what you’d expect to pay outside their platform.
Toptal offers this pricing chart:
What you pay your freelancer depends on:
ZipRecruiter does not have transparent pricing information before you sign up and start using their service.
While they don’t post information on the main site, ZipRecruiter’s support page notes their pricing starts at $249/month for the Simple plan.
The main difference between ZipRecruiter’s hiring plans is the number of active job postings you can have at any given time. Simple plans are limited to one active job slot, the team's plan can have up to four slots, and enterprise customers can pay for as many as they need.
According to ZipRecruiter, job slots are the maximum number of job ads you can have posted simultaneously. There is no limit on job postings per month and no limit on the number of candidates you get.
The other major difference between the pricing plans is how easily you can attract potential recruits. The enterprise plan allows you to use their TrafficBoost. With each Boost, ZipRecuiter states you’ll get up to 100 visitors to your job posting.
They also say that they will customize the price you pay based on various factors, such as how many other slots you need, how many resumes you want to download, and even where you are. This means that you cannot determine the pricing up-front, and that’s a significant negative.
Because Toptal does not charge any added fees, we recommend that you use Toptal over ZipRecruiter.
Toptal requires a $500 deposit which applies to your first bill. If you get a freelancer you are not satisfied with, you are not required to make any payment. You can choose to either part ways with Toptal or restart the hiring process.
The first time you work with your freelancer, you get a two-week test period with your new hire. If you’re not satisfied, Toptal will take the loss and won’t charge you for the freelancer’s work. (Please note: this is not a “free trial” in that if you accept the project, you will pay for the hours billed).
Toptal does not mention any information on their website how they handle disputes. However, every Toptal client receives an account manager who can help resolve your issues.
ZipRecruiter offers a four-day free trial.
The four-day free trial is designed to give you enough time to evaluate the service and get a general idea of how ZipRecruiter works. Since your free trial acts like the subscription plan you selected, there’s nothing you’re missing out on by participating in the trial.
The longer your job ad is posted, the more candidates you can receive. The activity you see in the first four days is a great indicator and should be enough for you to decide about your subscription before moving forward.
Because Toptal gives you a better feel working with your job candidate, Toptal is the clear winner over ZipRecruiter.
ZipRecruiter and Toptal are both beneficial for different hiring needs.
Toptal is an excellent freelance platform for hiring quality talent. Because of the time they invest in curating the best talent, you’ll spend less time to find the right freelancer.
ZipRecruiter is a good choice when hiring full-time or part-time team members for talent that Toptal doesn’t have.
Toptal does allow you to hire full-time employees from Toptal into your company. They do not mention if there are any associated costs in doing so. But given what other freelance platforms are doing, it’s likely that they will ask for a premium to do so.
On the whole, we recommend that you choose Toptal over ZipRecruiter when it comes to hiring developers, designers, or finance experts.