© 2017 - Mike Ashcroft
Toptal: Vetted freelancing
So, I decided to join toptal today. Why?
Like any consultant, visability is essential. If potential clients don't have an ability to find you, then they will never hire you. But toptal is something more than another visability platform. By vetting potential freelancers, they provide an initial certification of competence. This is a valuable service to both companies and serious, high quality freelancers.
I work within data science and machine learning. These skills are in demand around the world, and I have worked with major European, Middle Eastern and Asian companies. As a freelancer begins to interact with new clients globally, the costs involved for serious companies in vetting individuals increases. I'm lucky, in that my academic credentials (I have a PhD) and research background provides some sign of quality. But clients are always cautious when interacting with someone for the first time. And anything that can assist in soothing their concern that you really are capable of doing what you claim smooths the process. It is no surprise that word of mouth is typically the best advertising! So when I heard about toptal, their vetting process and guarantee to companies that freelancers on their site are top talents in their field, I couldn't wait to join.
If I had any criticism of the process so far it is that 'area' skills, such as data science, machine learning, etc, were not available to specify as our top skill. I love providing top quality data science and machine learning expertise on interesting and important projects. I have extensive experience working with a number of programming languages and managing teams of programmers. But I had to specify that R is my 'top skill'. R is great (so is Python, so is Java, so is C++), and I can certainly help you undertake R based machine learning/data science projects. So, yes, I should be included in the toptal R experts. But I can also help decide when and for what particular programming languages can be used within a data science project.
But we all learn in this business. And toptal looks like it is serious about providing an important contribution to high-quality freelancing within its chosen areas. So here's hoping things work well for them, and that they work well for me!