As your tech startup or business is growing and constantly releasing new features, sooner or later, you’ll feel the need to expand 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 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.
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. Your chances are quite high because professionals in the IT industry tend to change jobs once every 3–4 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. For example, WordPress developers 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 can be found during the Android Dev Summit or at Google’s official events for Android developers.
Offline events have become even more popular post-COVID, as many missed face-to-face communications and regular meetings. Although, you can still find online events and meetups using Facebook, Meetup, Eventbrite, and Linkedin communities.
3. Browsing online hiring platforms and remote job boards
These remote job platforms are a perfect place to find developers at reasonable prices because 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. However, meanwhile, you may post your job with technical skills requirements on the best remote job boards, such as:
- We Work Remotely
- Working Nomads
Don’t forget about 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 most sought-after talent, the guru of programming, so to speak, 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
GitHub is a community of engineers who 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. The StackOverflow community may help you find the best engineer for your project.
Also, you might find plenty of other developer communities on the web or websites like Meetup.com.
5. Social media
There are plenty of Facebook groups where people share job postings. You can also ask your connections to recommend the right coders for your software development job on Facebook and other social media websites. Just specify the required technical skills, and the CVs of trusted software experts will fly into your inbox. To attract more applicants, you may want to consider creating an animated short about your company and the benefits you provide to your workers to post on social platforms. Also, consider scheduling Facebook posts to come out when your ideal candidates are likely online to get maximum views.
Top 10 platforms to hire freelance developers
The following are the freelance platforms for developers that we consider to be the best. Many tech companies find these very valuable for finding developers available for hire. We will overview each of them and highlight their strengths and weaknesses.
This is probably the most “mainstream” website to 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 together. 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 freelancers engaged in long-term projects often prefer hourly rates. Hours are billed through Upwork’s native time-tracking app.
You can also browse freelancers’ profiles and invite them to apply for your job.
|Pros of Upwork||Cons of Upwork|
|Ease of use||Mostly suitable for short-term projects|
|Quick access to a wide talent pool with reasonable prices||Takes a long time to find the best match|
|Built-in time tracker|
|Quick customer support|
The second most popular website to 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 the screening process:
- 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 three weeks.
- Only 3% of candidates pass the screening. Furthermore, they are required to maintain a perfect track record when working with clients. Thus, if you wish to hire freelance developers without spending time testing their hard skills, TopTal might be the solution for you.
|Pros of TopTal||Cons of TopTal|
|Strict vetting of candidates so only the best freelance developer is available for hire||High prices|
|Ease of use||Best suitable for long-term projects|
|Free trial period for freelancers|
|Protection of intellectual property|
YouTeam is a tech talent marketplace that connects businesses and startups to software developers and designers from offshore countries. Like Upwork and TopTal, clients can browse profiles of software developers and personally interview them. Additionally, similarly to TopTal, all developers undergo a strict vetting process.
The difference is that on YouTeam, you can find developers who are a part of dedicated teams working on a full-time basis at local software agencies. However, 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||Cons of YouTeam|
|Strict vetting of candidates||Limited talent pool in comparison to Upwork|
|Talent pool includes 50,000+ developers||Best suitable for long-term projects|
|All developers work in development companies, and they won’t switch to other projects until the scope is finished with you|
|Ease of use|
|Recruitment is done for you — after you leave the project requirements, the 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|
|All legal and financial aspects are taken care of in a single, convenient interface|
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.
- If you feel that the trial was completed successfully, 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||Cons of MoonLightWork|
|Ease of use||The community is quite small|
|Safe payments||The vetting process is not strict enough—the platform allows candidates with relatively little experience to feature their profiles|
|Free trial period for freelancers||The talent is based mostly in the US, so the prices may be higher|
|Mostly automated and thus fast|
|Narrow specialization of developers|
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||Cons of Gun.io|
|Fast hiring–within 48 hours||No client feedback available|
|Access to the highest quality talent due to strict screening||Lengthy sign-up process|
|The developers are dedicated only to your project||Distant customer service|
Arc is an AI-powered, global, community-driven marketplace that connects companies with skilled developers. Employers can swiftly hire pre-vetted freelancers, regardless of location. With its AI recruiter, HireAI, you can find fast and accurate matches within 72 hours:
1. Describe the freelance developer you’re looking for.
2. Add required technical skills and budget.
3. Receive a list of vetted candidate profiles that match your needs.
4. Select who to interview.
|Pros of Arc||Cons of Arc|
|High-quality work||Arc doesn’t provide resume database browsing services|
|Relatively fast recruitment (within 72 hours)||Basic customer support|
|AI-powered vetting and matching process|
|Risk-free trial period|
Pilot is a hiring platform connecting clients worldwide with 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 sees how the freelancer resolves them.
- Skill-based evaluation. For example, if the programmer is said to know HTML and CSS, Pilot vets these skills.
- Coding assignments are then reviewed by senior members of the platform.
- Application review.
- An interview to test language and communication skills.
- Only 1% of candidates pass the screening.
|Pros of Pilot||Cons of Pilot|
|Strict vetting process||Slow payment process|
|Continuous assessment of platform members|
|Availability for long-term full-time collaboration opportunities|
|Easy to use|
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:
- Your 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, a PRO business website, or an e-Commerce business website.
- Select the services, and click “Order Now.”
|Pros of Fiverr||Cons of Fiverr|
|Easy, intuitive search||Only short-time projects (gigs) are available|
|Ability to browse portfolios without registration||No vetting processes|
|A wide range of countries and rates||High service fees|
|Suitable for all types of businesses|
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, specifically between $25 and $45. However, you need to buy hours before you start hiring and working with the developers on your project.
|Pros of Lemon.io||Cons of Lemon.io|
|Reasonable pricing||Do not have embedded & firmware developers|
|Strict vetting of developers||Quality may vary depending on the freelancer|
|Helpful customer support|
|Easy-to-use payment plans|
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 a rigorous screening of both tech and soft skills. Another advantage of Scalable Path is that the agency allows you to hire good developers quickly. Typically, the whole process takes up to three weeks.
|Pros of Scalable Path||Cons of Scalable Path|
|Quick hiring—normally less than three weeks||Customer service|
|No recruiting fees|
|Strict candidate vetting|
|Low overhead costs|
Tips on hiring a freelance developer
No matter which platform you choose, we recommend 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 tools the freelancer must know and be able to use, and which skill sets are most desired.
2. Define the project length
Knowing the length of your project will help to define what kind of engineers you need and where to find them. If the project is short-term, you can hire freelance developers from platforms such as Upwork or Fiverr willing to take on small tasks. Although, be aware that you need to evaluate the candidate’s skills properly to recruit the best one. Although, you can also use those platforms to hire engineers for long-term projects. However, to ensure the quality of candidates in this case, you should dig deeper into their portfolios and evaluate their experience based on the projects they worked on, as ratings do not always show the whole picture. If you take the time to evaluate the developer thoroughly, you can get an engineer with exceptional expertise within your price range.
3. Check the experience of candidates
For example, Upwork offers three skill levels: beginner, intermediate, and expert, with corresponding pricing. If you need something quick, you can check the beginners’ profiles.
It often happens that freelancers new to Upwork take up quick projects to gain experience within the platform, but it does not mean they do not have experience outside the platform. Review their portfolio, ask for a code sample, and check some past references, feedback, and ratings. You can also ask if they have experience with any of the popular project management tools. For instance, 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 platform.
4. Establish a reliable relationship and build trust
By creating open and honest communication, you have a higher chance of building 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 evolve into a long-term partnership.
How to hire the best freelance developers—FAQ
What types of businesses hire freelance web developers?
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?
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 Coding Ninjas may be your best option.
However, if you need a dedicated team of remote developers from an offshore country, then you should consider YouTeam.
Nevertheless, no matter which platform you prefer, remember to check the following when hiring freelance developers:
- 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.