Companies around the globe will face a shortage of 85 million highly skilled workers by 2030, according to a study by Korn Ferry. That gap will slow innovation, drive down productivity, and cost companies a combined $8.5 trillion in unrealized annual revenue.
As the talent shortage grows and inflation continues, salaries for highly skilled tech workers will continue to rise. In fact, compensation could increase by 8% for some roles in 2023, according to a recent analysis from IT management consulting firm Janco Associates.
Well-funded startups and hypergrowth companies may have the money for these increasingly competitive tech salaries. But only big firms are likely to have the bandwidth for long-term talent pipeline fixes like apprenticeships and upskilling programs.
Fortunately, there’s a lever that businesses of all kinds can pull to gain an advantage: on-demand hiring of remote, global talent.
On-demand Hiring Requires a Specialized Approach
Most companies rely on some degree of on-demand talent to boost productivity or fill skill gaps. Unfortunately, many firms still look for these workers via job ads, word of mouth, or typical online freelance platforms.
These strategies are quickly becoming outdated in today’s talent economy. These methods are slow and a drain on managers’ time and resources. What’s more, a recent survey by Emergent Research highlighted two more pain points: Direct sourcing makes it difficult to 1) find workers with the right skills and 2) verify that they can produce high-quality work.
At Toptal, our exclusive focus is on-demand tech talent. Over the last 13 years, we’ve shown 24,000 startup, SMB, and enterprise businesses that there is a better way. On-demand hiring through a strategic staffing partner with a vetted remote talent pool offers a major advantage.
Thorough Vetting of On-demand Talent Is Key
There are millions of independent tech workers around the world. Thirty-six percent of the US labor force is freelance, according to McKinsey & Company. But online reviews and testimonials are unreliable, and LinkedIn profiles are easily embellished. So it can be a struggle for leaders to find on-demand candidates who can really do the work.
Objective skill assessments and test projects like the ones Toptal uses are extremely efficient gatekeepers. Toptal accepts only the top 3% of those who apply—experts like augmented reality UX designer Pam Nicholls, who has worked on games and apps for Electronic Arts, Ubisoft, and DreamWorks Animation, and artificial intelligence engineer Daniel Pérez Rubio, a former data scientist at BASF and Daimler, who joined Toptal in 2021.
This intensive vetting process is one reason why media invention startup WaitWhat tapped Toptal to help build an entirely new kind of content delivery app on a short timeline. “I did quite a bit of research because quality is so important to what we do,” says WaitWhat co-founder Deron Triff. “We needed a partner that had done the heavy screening or curation process to identify talent that would meet our standards. And Toptal’s methodology gave me confidence that we had the best chance of getting an A-team brought together quickly.”
A Global Talent Pool Boosts Innovation and Success
To find workers with high-demand or niche skills, you need a very large talent pool—ideally, a global one.
Casting a worldwide net makes it much more likely you’ll find the precise combination of skills you need, such as a back-end developer with React, TypeScript, and NLP expertise. A global talent pool also increases the diversity of thought and experience, and research shows that hiring people with different perspectives sparks new ideas for products and reveals innovative solutions. A 2018 Boston Consulting Group study of 1,700 companies across eight countries found that for organizations with above-average diversity, 45% of earnings were driven by innovation versus 26% for companies with below-average diversity.
International talent also offers companies a more nuanced understanding of different cultures, giving them an edge in new global markets. Toptal is the world’s largest fully remote workforce, with more than 10,000 skilled professionals spanning upward of 140 countries. That’s why Bridgestone leaders came to us when they needed help designing an app that workers around the world could use to track processes and inventory.
“A big challenge we faced was creating a user interface that was really easy for factory workers to use. It required a lot of thought around the design process—that’s why we chose Toptal,” says Thierry Jakircevic, Director of Mobility Solutions for Bridgestone.
The app had to be simple and intuitive for users across cultures, languages, and geographies. Toptal talent specialists leveraged our global network and supplied Bridgestone with a team of four international UX and UI designers with the right combination of skills and experience to get it done.
Scaling Your Business With On-demand Talent
The roles that on-demand talent can fill aren’t limited to developers, designers, and project managers. Some smaller companies, especially startups, can’t afford—and may not necessarily need—a permanent CFO or CIO. But C-level strategic leadership can help firms scale operations and stay in compliance.
The pool of on-demand, fractional executives who can fill that need is expanding. In fact, nearly 70% of the C-suite has seriously considered quitting their full-time jobs in search of better well-being, according to a recent Deloitte survey. Toptal is seeing the results of that trend, with more and more C-level specialists in search of flexible opportunities applying to our network. For example, we now have more than 600 vetted interim CFOs in our on-demand workforce.
Of course, leveraging world-class, on-demand talent would be impractical without remote work—not just because global hiring requires it, but because the best talent in tech demands it.
Full-stack engineer and CTO Anitet Wheeler-Rose, for example, was recruited by Google after the company noticed his impressive C++ competitive programming rating in 2016. But he left, joined Toptal in 2022, and now works remotely from Haiku-Pauwela, Hawaii. Product manager Elena Grigoras spent 15 years in executive roles for a startup in Moldova. When she wanted to move to Spain, she joined Toptal and now works as senior growth product manager for one of our large healthcare clients in Scandinavia.
World-class talent like Pam, Daniel, Anitet, and Elena want flexibility. And they want diverse projects in which they can make an impact without committing to a single company for years.
When you source world-class, on-demand talent from a global partner like Toptal, you increase your competitive edge. Global hiring, stringent vetting, and exciting, flexible remote work opportunities unlock access to the skilled and ambitious professionals who will drive your business success.