IT hiring alternative sources

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Thanks to the advancement of online freelance platforms — websites like Upwork — engaging in temporary projects has become an easy and safe way for IT people to earn money. Now gigs are the main source of income for millions. And even those who have a full-time job, often take side hustles to gain new skills, save up for a big purchase, or pay off their loans. Companies became more eager to use the huge freelance workforce to fill difficult-to-find roles and solve complex business challenges.

It comes as no surprise that over 50% of all gig economy job postings target freelance software developers.  All businesses either go through the digital transformation or are based on technology, however, not everyone can employ a developer due to uncertainties about future needs or budget.

Finding freelance software engineers is the go-to option for many companies. The iLabor Project’s Online Labour Index (OLI) calculated based on data from major freelance platforms proves that the demand for freelance programmers continues growing.

Software development has the highest Online Labour Index

Demand generates supply. Now you have limitless opportunities to outsource tech talent. Your options are not restricted to your city or country anymore. But what does it take to find the best freelance developer for your business? Let’s consider services like Upwork and Proxify and see how different your IT hiring experience can be.

Is it easy to find freelance developers online?

Most probably you’re about to rush into studying lists of Upwork alternatives and start comparing the platforms’ features, rates, and size of their talent pool. But it might be better to stop for a moment and make sure you have the right approach to selecting on-demand talent. Here are the core principles to follow when looking for freelance developers:

Know who you need

Having to be flexible, freelance developers obtain experience with a broad range of technologies. That being said, the best ones strive to become niche experts. When outsourcing part of your business, you’re interested in finding the best match for your particular project. Therefore, you should have a strategy to distinguish between, for example, a Node.js expert and a person who has dealt with Node.js just once. If you are not a subject matter expert and can’t check freelancers’ knowledge before hiring, then better find someone who can help you with it.

Formulate clear requirements

A good job description will help freelance developers self check against your requirements. Being interested in delivering great results, independent contractors prefer gigs that they know they can cope with. The more details about the project you give, the more relevant applications you get. Moreover, a clear job description also characterizes you as a thoughtful and trustworthy employer and attracts the attention of the best talent.

Mind personality match

Apart from the trivial language barrier, there may be a dozen other reasons for an unsuccessful engagement of remote programmers. The ability to communicate effectively makes a difference in remote cooperation. Make sure to check the developers’ soft skills to avoid problems in getting your business requirements translated into technical solutions.

As you can see, there’s a lot to take into account when looking for independent contractors. Luckily, you can rely on freelance IT people hiring platforms, not only sites similar to Upwork but also its alternatives, that can assist you in making your choice in one way or another. Now let’s look at two types of websites that proved to be the most helpful in searching for freelance developers.

Websites like Upwork and their alternatives

Big freelance marketplaces, similar to UpWork, Fiverr, or PeoplePerHour, come on top of mind. Those platforms became go-to options for beginner freelancers and employers because of the huge talent pool and good infrastructure. Their system of ratings and reviews helps to find quick gig workers relatively fast. Built-in tools for billing, time tracking, and task management, simplify collaboration and payments.

Another popular type of website is a talent matching network. Those are Upwork competitors and alternatives, such as Toptal, Gigster, or Those platforms come in handy for those in search of highly-skilled independent contractors for challenging one-off projects. In addition to good infrastructure, talent matching networks provide assistance in finding the right people, which facilitates the recruitment process.

Both types of platforms deserve your attention and can be of help when you strive to find developers online. However, they provide absolutely different experiences for both independent professionals and employers. Let’s consider in more detail what recruiting on marketplaces and talent networks does look like.

How to find good developers in a freelance marketplace?

The workflow suggested by websites similar to Upwork looks quite attractive. A friendly interface and simple rules promise a quick and easy start. Still, it may take quite some time and effort before you find a suitable candidate.

Post a job or send individual invites

You post a job on the job board and wait for applications. In addition, you quickly filter through developers’ profiles and send individual invites to those who look like a good fit. Doing so, you'll either receive the first 5 to 15 replies within minutes or wait for them a couple of days depending on the number of developers looking for a new gig like yours.

Screen candidates who applied

Before inviting prospective freelancers for an interview, you should pre-vet them. For this, you look through the cover letters they wrote when submitting their proposals and select the most relevant. Next, you check developers’ profiles and portfolios, view their ratings, and read feedback left by their previous clients. Having found those whose profiles look promising, you evaluate their technical skills. If you are not a subject matter expert, you invite a senior engineer who knows the stack and can review candidates’ code. At this step, most of the candidates get weed out.

Interview promising applicants

To move on, you consider if there is a difference in time zones that can affect your workflow later and schedule interviews with several people. Just as with an ordinary job interview, you spend about an hour to get to know them and ask any questions that will help you make the final decision. Having found the right person you further discuss the terms and details of cooperation and give it a go.

What if nobody meets your requirements?

Despite the huge pool of freelancers on the platform, nobody guarantees that you find the talent you need. With hundreds of posts appearing in freelancers’ job feed every hour, yours can get overlooked. While some job posts get up to 50 proposals, others get less than 5. If too few developers apply, you have to pay to promote your job post, access pro search features, or get help from advisors working on the platform.

Mind that freelancers screen prospective employers too

In their turn, freelance developers also evaluate you as a potential employer. They look at your history on the platform, the amount of money spent, and feedback on previous hires. Don’t be surprised if you don’t get a dozen applications for your first job post. It takes a freelancer as much time and effort to find a gig on the marketplace as it takes you to hire someone. So they prefer jobs posted by employers who’ve been on the platform for a while and gave good reviews to their previous contractors.

One last thing, not all freelance developers appreciate marketplaces

The marketplace ecosystem requires programmers to put significant effort into looking for new jobs and going on interview calls. Highly-skilled developers know that their time costs too much to spend part of it being their own sales managers. This is why top experts prefer to join talent matching networks that assist them in finding new job opportunities.

Is a talent matching network a better experience?

Now let’s look at services that represent Upwork competition. The main advantage of a talent matching network over a marketplace is that vetting is done for you. Instead of going through dozens of developer profiles and rounds of interviews by yourself, you rely on specialists to introduce you to a suitable professional.

Tell your requirements to a matching expert

You contact a talent matching manager and describe the work you need to be done. They take notes on the scope of work, start date, approximate time frame, required skills, and other important details. Then you get back to your business while the talent matching manager checks their network to find a developer that meets your requirements.

Meet the right freelance developer within days

In a few days, you get introduced to the right candidate. You don’t have to check their domain-specific knowledge or communication skills because that was done for you by the talent network experts. Before developers get admitted to the network, they complete test tasks to prove they have the required skill set. Only those with proven expertise and ability to deliver great results when working remotely get in.

Start risk-free cooperation with a trial

Right after the introductory call, you start your cooperation with the recommended candidate. You don’t risk anything because you have a trial period to get confident in the developer before you pay them. Having the highest caliber talent in their pool, networks give a 99% guarantee that they match you with the perfect developer for your company from the first try.

Don’t get discouraged by high hourly rates

Talent matching networks strive to enroll the best talent whose hourly rates are quite high. Software developers’ rates on Toptal make as much as $60 / h to $210 / h. If that doesn’t fit in your budget, you can address smaller talent networks. They offer lower rates but still provide professional matching services and connect you with high-caliber developers. For example, on developers’ hourly rates start from 29€.

The best place to find freelance programmers

The truth is there is no lack of highly-skilled experts among freelance developers. However, the variety of options complicates making a choice. Should you go with platforms that are top of the mind or look for services that make a good alternative to Upwork, Fiverr, or PeoplePerHour?

If you’re determined to outsource software development from independent contractors, we suggest that you go the shortest way. Leaving a talent request at, you delegate the most time-consuming part of your hiring process to experts. You don’t risk anything and are likely to start working with the best matching talent within two weeks.

Find your next developer within days, not months

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In a short 25-minute call, we would like to:

  • Understand your development needs
  • Explain our process to match you with qualified, vetted developers from our network
  • Share next steps to finding the right match, often within less than a week

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