As your tech startup or business is growing and constantly releasing new features, sooner or later you’ll feel the need for expanding your team of software developers.
If you’re based in the US or Western Europe and wish to hire a developer, be aware that you may experience a shortage of tech talent locally. Not to mention the fact that posting a job description means you’ll have to go through hundreds of irrelevant CVs, while the real talent won’t be searching for new opportunities.
Research by the Korn Ferry Institute predicts that by 2030, the technology, media, and telecommunications industry will be one of the three major industries facing the biggest talent shortage in the US. Besides, it may be too expensive for you to hire a developer in-house for short-time projects.
One of the solutions to the shortage of tech talent in your area is to find and hire freelance developers.
In this article, we will list the platforms and portals that are, in our opinion, the best places where you can hire developers online. Additionally, we’ll provide you with some useful tips on hiring freelance software developers.
Alternatives to traditional recruitment
The traditional way to find and hire developers is to work with a dedicated recruiter. However, it’s possible to hire directly by using some alternative sources, for example:
1. Asking for referrals
One way to find and hire a developer is to ask for a referral. You can tap into your network of professional contacts and ask them to refer a software developer with certain technical skills who is looking for a job at the moment. Your chances are quite high because professionals in the IT industry tend to change jobs once in 3 or 4 years in search of new exciting projects and challenges.
2. Networking at online tech events
Another alternative to traditional recruitment has always been to sign up for and attend tech events focused on specific technologies – depending on what you’re looking for. WordPress developers, for example, hang out at WordCamp. Python developers can be found at PyCon whereas Java specialists network at JCon. For Full Stack developers — there is the Full Stack Europe conference. Android developers could be found during the Android Dev Summit or at Google’s official events for Android developers. In 2020, all events moved online but they didn’t stop coming. You can still find online events and meetups using Facebook, Meetup, Eventbrite, and Linkedin communities. Connect with (or follow) opinion-makers in the software industry or technology you’re hiring for to stay on top of the new events coming.
3. Browsing online hiring platforms and remote job boards
These remote job platforms are a perfect place to find developers at reasonable prices because there you can find great freelancers from all over the world. Later in this article, we are also going to give an overview of the top 10 best hiring platforms. But meanwhile, you may post your job with technical skills requirements on the best remote job boards such as:
|We Work Remotely|
And don’t forget about the good old LinkedIn. If developers are subscribed to a certain job search query that matches yours, they will get a notification about your job posting. For example, coders subscribed to “remote app developer” or “remote back-end developer” queries will get an email or a notification about a new remote coding job for app developers or back-end developers.
Of course, if you want to get the biggest talent, the guru of programming so to say, you might need to work with an external recruiter with a great network or try out the hiring platforms (more on that later).
4. Browsing coding platforms and communities
Have you heard of GitHub? This is the community of engineers where they share how they build great software. You can see code samples of real software developers on GitHub, and even offer the job to someone who has coded something similar to the product you are planning to build.
Another great idea is to connect with the best developers on StackOverflow. It’s a place where developers ask for coding advice and share tips and tricks. StackOverflow community may help you find the best engineer for your project.
There are also plenty of other developer communities you might find on the web or on the websites like Meetup.com.
5. Social media
There are plenty of Facebook groups where people share job postings. On Facebook and other social media websites, you can also ask your connections to recommend the right coders for your software development job. Just specify the required technical skills, and CVs of trusted software experts will fly into your inbox.
Top 10 platforms to hire freelance developers
Here are the freelance portals that we consider the best. They are the destinations for many startups where they find developers available for hire. We will give an overview of each of them and highlight their strengths and weaknesses.
This is probably the most “mainstream” website where you can find and hire freelance developers.
Here’s how it works for employers:
- You post a job/project description outlining the skills required from the candidates.
- Upwork matches the description against the profiles of freelancers who have similar skills.
- You get a shortlist of the most suitable candidates.
- Having interviewed and selected the candidate, you start working. There are two ways that the freelancers can bill you: flat fee or hourly rate. Flat fees are typically used for short-time tasks whereas hourly rates are often chosen by freelancers engaged in long time projects. Hours are billed through the native app of Upwork.
You can also browse the freelancers’ profiles and invite them to apply to your job.
🔶 Pros of Upwork
- Ease of use
- Quick access to a wide talent pool with reasonable prices
- Built-in time tracker
- Mobile app
- Safe payments
- Quick customer support
🔷 Cons of Upwork
High fees. Upwork withholds 20% of your payment, so in many cases, the employers need to include this 20% in the payment. However, for long time contracts, the commission is flexibly reduced when a certain payment amount is reached across all contracts between the freelancer and their client.
The second most known website that can help you hire a developer is TopTal. Initially, TopTal was intended for freelance software developers only, but in 2015, the platform expanded from software development and now includes designers. Now you can also hire project/product managers and finance experts on TopTal.
The most remarkable feature of the platform is the rigorous screening of all candidates, at the end of which only 3% remain. Here’s how the screening takes place:
- A comprehensive language, personality, and communication interview.
- A technical interview where the skills, intellect, and problem-solving abilities are checked.
- Each candidate undergoes live tests to evaluate their specific skills within the primary expertise sphere.
- Each candidate is assigned a test project, which is a real-world case, and must complete it within 3 weeks maximum.
- 3% of candidates pass the screening. On top of that, they are required to maintain a perfect track record when working with clients. Thus, if you wish to hire freelance developers without spending time on testing their hard skills, TopTal might be the solution for you.
🔶 Pros of TopTal
- Strict vetting of candidates so only the best freelance developer for hire is available
- Ease of use
- Quick recruitment
- The free trial period for freelancers
- Protection of intellectual property
🔷 Cons of TopTal
It is not suitable for small projects.
YouTeam is a tech talent marketplace that connects businesses and startups to software developers and designers from offshore countries. Like on Upwork and TopTal, clients can browse profiles of software developers and personally interview them. And like on TopTal, the developers undergo a strict vetting process.
However, the difference is that on YouTeam you would find developers who are actually not freelancers. They are a part of dedicated teams working on a full-time basis at local software agencies. But the clients collaborate directly with the developers, without a PM acting as an intermediary (though the PM model is also possible).
As a result, you work with the development team remotely, just like with freelancers, but your collaboration is as reliable as it would be with an in-house team.
🔶 Pros of YouTeam
- Strict vetting of candidates that are available on the platform
- All developers work in development companies, and they won’t switch to other projects until the scope is finished with you
- Ease of use
- Basically, recruitment is done for you: after you leave the project requirements, YouTeam specialist scans its own unique database of available talent and sends you CVs in less than 48 hours
- The team of developers is dedicated only to your project
- The platform is free of charge – you pay only for the work delivered by the developer or the development team
- All legal and financial aspects are taken care of in a single convenient interface
🔷 Cons of YouTeam
It may not be suitable for short-term projects. E.g, if you’re looking for a web developer to fix the layout on your website, it’s better to hire a freelance web developer. However, if you’re looking for a front-end developer to join your back-end team to help build the product interface in the course of a few months, YouTeam is a great choice. If you want an app developer to build the entire app for your e-commerce website, this could also be a gig for YouTeam.
MoonLightWork is a community of software developers and product designers that also acts as a marketplace where you can hire freelance developers.
Here’s how it works:
- You post the job description.
- Moonlight notifies the community and finds perfect matches.
- You work together with the applicants on a paid trial project.
- In case of a successfully completed trial, you can hire the developers as ongoing contractors or full-time employees.
- You can either pay the developers on an hourly basis via Moonlight or hire them directly.
🔶 Pros of MoonLightWork
- Ease of use
- Safe payments
- The free trial period for freelancers
- Mostly automated and thus fast
- Narrow specialization of developers
🔷 Cons of MoonLightWork
- The community is quite small
- The vetting process is not strict enough – the platform allows the candidates with relatively small experience to feature their profiles;
- The talent is based mostly in the US, so the prices may be quite high
Gun.io is a developer-only freelance marketplace with a strict vetting process, which works as follows:
- The coders are tested for the ability to work remotely.
- The developer passes an automated coding exam, a live coding exercise, and a technical interview with a member of the engineering team.
- The freelancer is interviewed by the CEO of Gun.io.
- Gun.io representatives perform reference checks with the candidate’s previous clients.
🔶 Pros of Gun.io
- Fast hiring – within 48 hours
- Access to the highest quality talent due to strict screening
- The developers are dedicated only to your project
- User-friendly software
🔷 Cons of Gun.io
- No client feedback available
- Lengthy sign-up process
- Distant customer service
Codementor is an online marketplace that helps its clients find a professional developer (mentor) for live programming help. Its sub-project, CodementorX, is a place where you can hire freelance coder picked from the pool of mentors. The hiring process is similar to that at other platforms, specifically:
- You specify your requirements.
- The CodementorX consultant reaches out to you and helps you find a perfect fit.
- Based on your requirements, you get a shortlist of 1-2 developers.
- You review the profiles of the shortlisted candidates and interview them.
- Start a trial project with the developer that you have chosen.
🔶 Pros of CodementorX
- The high quality of work provided
- Relatively fast recruitment (within 72 hours)
- AI-powered vetting and matching process
- Risk-free trial period
🔷 Cons of CodementorX
- Not suitable for long term projects
- Technical difficulties
Pilot is a hiring platform that connects clients from all over the world with the vetted developers and designers, handling the hiring logistics.
The vetting process is as follows:
- Analysis of the written communication skills.
- Simulation of collaboration projects challenges to see how the freelancer resolves them.
- Skill-based evaluation. E.g., if the programmer is said to know HTML and CSS, Pilot vets this skill.
- Coding assignments, which are then reviewed by senior members of the platform.
- Application review.
- An interview to test the language and communication skills.
- 1% of candidates pass the screening.
🔶 Pros of Pilot
- Strict vetting process
- Continuous assessment of platform members
- Availability for long-term full-time collaboration opportunities
🔷 Cons of Pilot
There are not so many reviews available on the Internet.
Fiverr.com is a marketplace of on-demand digital freelance services, from music and audio to programming and tech. It is perfect for those looking to hire a developer for short-term projects. Here’s how it works:
- You search for the required services, e.g. WordPress website design.
- Use the smart filters to narrow down your search. You can specify the service type, e.g. full website creation and plugins, price range, and delivery time.
- Fiverr will show you a list of available portfolios that you can browse. You can choose between different pricing packages, e.g. a startup business website, PRO business website, or e-commerce business website.
- Select the services and click “Order Now”.
🔶 Pros of Fiverr.com
- Easy, intuitive search
- Ability to browse portfolios without registration
- A wide range of countries and rates
- Suitable for all types of businesses
🔷 Cons of Fiverr.com
- Only short-time projects (gigs) are available
- No vetting processes
Lemon.io is a network of vetted developers that you can hire as freelancers. The developers are located mostly in Eastern Europe and thus offer quite reasonable hourly rates as for the US, specifically, between $25 and $45. You need to buy hours before you start hiring and working with the developers on your project.
🔶 Pros of Lemon.io
- Reasonable pricing
- Strict vetting of developers
- Helpful customer support
🔷 Cons of Lemon.io
- Do not have embedded & firmware developers.
- Offer only those developers that know, so it may happen that the platform doesn’t have anyone available.
Scalable Path is a technical staffing agency with thousands of freelance software developers and designers from over 138 countries. Scalable Path offers each client personal support throughout the entire hiring process, handpicking the candidates according to the project requirements. Prior to that, all clients undergo the rigorous screening of both tech and soft skills. Another advantage of Scalable Path is that the agency allows you to hire good developers quickly, normally, the whole process takes up to 3 weeks.
🔶 Pros of Scalable Path
- Quick hiring – up to 3 weeks
- No recruiting fees
- Strict vetting of candidates
- Low overhead costs
🔷 Cons of Scalable Path
There are not so many reviews available on the Internet.
Tips on hiring a freelance developer
No matter which platform you choose, we recommend that you follow these tips when looking for freelance software engineers:
1. Define your project requirements
Find out which programming languages are required for your project, what are your budget and timeline, and which skill sets are most preferable.
2. Check the experience of candidates
For example, Upwork offers three levels of skills: beginner, intermediate, and expert, with the corresponding pricing. If you need something quick, then you can check out the beginners’ profiles.
It often happens that the freelancers who are new to Upwork take up quick projects to gain experience within the platform, but it does not mean that they do not have experience outside the platform. Review their portfolio, ask for a code sample, check some past references, feedback, and ratings. Ask if they have experience with any of the popular project management tools. E.g., a new front-end developer might look like a fresh freelance developer on Upwork but their CV may be much more than that — check their LinkedIn profile, ask the coder for references from other places of work if they don’t have any ratings on the website.
3. Establish a reliable relationship and build trust
By creating open, shared, and honest communication you have a higher chance to build trust with your developers. When the client and freelancer share the same vision of the project and its goals, they can reach the most productive cooperation, which can then evolve into a long-term partnership.
How to hire the best freelance developers — FAQ
We’ll put things mentioned above briefly here, plus add a few new useful sources.
How to hire the best freelance developers?
How much does it cost to hire a freelance software developer?
What are the advantages of working with freelance developers?
When will my credit card be charged?
The bottom line
The shortage of tech talent in the US urges the owners of both startups and established businesses to tap into alternative ways of hiring. These include referrals, networking at tech events, and the freelance software development market.
There is a wide range of platforms where you can find and hire freelance developers, such as:
- Coding Ninjas
- Scalable Path
Each of these platforms has its own pros and cons, so you should carefully study them and choose the one that fits your needs to the greatest extent. For example, if you’re looking for quick, short-term gigs, then you can consider Fiverr or Upwork.
If you wish to hire a developer with a narrow technology stack, e.g. web development, then you can choose Coding Ninjas.
But if you need a dedicated team of remote developers in an offshore country, then you can consider YouTeam.
No matter which platform you’d prefer, remember to check the following when hiring freelance developers:
- Define your project requirements.
- Check the experience of candidates.
- Establish efficient communication and build trust.
We wish you good luck in finding the best candidate for your project.