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By 2020, more than 40 percent of the U.S. workforce will be freelancers and contractors. This is the direction we’re moving in, particularly for design and development jobs which tend to be project-based.

This is great for one-off projects because you only have to pay for the end result. In general, you’ll spend less money and you’re more likely to receive higher-quality deliverables. Though, for long-term projects with lots of ongoing maintenance, you should hire a full-time employee instead.

Where can you find freelancer programmers to hire? Use the following seven sites. They all have their own pros and cons, so feel free to use more than one if you want to cast your net wide and/or speed up the hiring process.

1. Toptal

The freelance market has a poor reputation for being a race to the bottom: everyone undercuts everyone else, resulting in half-skilled workers who will take on any job for unlivable wages. A lot of companies have been burned by the surge in worker supply, which made it tough to find truly competent coders.

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And that’s why Toptal has made a name for itself. Instead of allowing anybody to create a profile, Toptal prides itself on its intensive screening process. Only experts are allowed — more specifically, only the Top 3% of all monthly applicants are accepted. This guarantees worker quality for you.

The screening process includes: a language and personality interview, an in-depth skill review, a practical exam, and test projects through which applicants demonstrate their professionalism and work ethic.

Toptal only deals in three industries as of this writing: programming, creative design, and financial expertise. You can rest assured that they aren’t spread too thin. Whether you need a programmer for Java, PHP, C#, iOS, Python, or even WordPress, you’ll find one here.

Regions — North/Central/South America and Europe.

2. Guru

Guru is a global network of over 3 million freelancers, and almost half of them are listed in the fields of IT, web development, and software development. The quickest way to get started is to visit the Find a Guru page and start looking through the listings.

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Everything is handled through Guru’s platform. You can seek out specific workers or you can put out a listing and have workers apply to you. All communication, agreements, milestones, tasks, and document sharing is done on the site itself. Payments are held in escrow by Guru so that you don’t have to risk losing money for unfinished or unsatisfactory work.

Regions — Global.

3. Upwork

Remember Elance and oDesk? In 2015, they both joined forces to become Upwork, which is now the largest online freelancing platform on the web with over 12 million freelancers centralized in four countries (listed below). This means that if you’re hiring in these countries, you’ll probably find the most success with Upwork.

Payments are handled through Upwork’s escrow system so you never pay for unfinished or unsatisfactory work. If a problem does arise, the dispute resolution program will help you come to a solution. Communications, milestones, and time-tracking can all be done through the Upwork platform.

Although Upwork supports dozens of job categories, it’s mostly used by web and mobile developers. If that’s the kind of work you need, you’ll have an entire ocean to pick from.

Regions — U.S., Canada, U.K., Australia.

4. Freelancer

Freelancer is another huge platform built from the acquisition of various smaller platforms over the years, including GetAFreelancer, EUFreelance, Scriptlance, Rent-A-Coder, and vWorker. It now has over 10 million registered freelancers.

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Just post a job listing and wait for freelancers to make bids. Once you hire the ones you need, you can use the platform’s built-in chat system, support system, time tracker, and mobile apps to stay on top of everything. Payments are held in escrow until you are satisfied.

Programming-related categories include web development, mobile development, language-specific like PHP, platform-specific like Android, WordPress, and more.

Regions — Global.

5. /r/ForHire

The downside to using one of the automated platforms listed above is that everyone is racing to the bottom of the barrel. What if you want to be more hands-on with hiring so that you can make absolute sure that the freelancer is a good fit for your needs?

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For that, I recommend using Reddit — in particular, the /r/ForHire community where you can make job postings for free. It isn’t programming-centric, but a lot of the readers here are looking for programming jobs and you’ll get a lot of good responses.

/r/Jobbit is another one, though not as popular or active.

Regions — Global.

6. Craigslist

Craigslist is the 6th most popular website in the U.S. and the 38th most popular website worldwide according to SimilarWeb. With over 750 million visitors per month, posting a call for freelancers on Craigslist is the best thing you can do if you want to maximize your reach.

If you’re looking for a local freelancer, just post under the right region. For programmers, you’ll want to post under the Software / QA / DBA section. If you’re looking for remote freelancers, you can go ahead and make listings for several major cities including Seattle, San Francisco, Raleigh, and even Boston.

hire-programmer-craigslist

Unfortunately, Craigslist is not free. To make a job listing, you’ll have to pay $35 per category selected. This can quickly add up if you’re putting out a call in multiple cities.

Note that whether you’re selling goods or hiring a freelancer, there are some general tips for maximizing Craigslist success that you may want to keep in mind. An extra bit of effort here could be the difference between skilled workers applying or passing over your post.

Regions — U.S. and Canada.

A Note on Hiring Freelancers

As with most things in life, be aware that you get what you pay for when it comes to freelanced work quality. If you want top-notch work, then you’re going to have to pay competitive rates 6 of the Best Paying Tech Careers for 2016 6 of the Best Paying Tech Careers for 2016 Investing in the right technology career requires planning and foresight. These six career options are expected to be the hottest in the next few years. Are you ready? Read More , especially because freelancers have to pay more in taxes 7 Financial Considerations to Think About Before Going Freelance 7 Financial Considerations to Think About Before Going Freelance Working from home seems like a great way to save a lot of money, but are you prepared for these seven considerations? Read More .

If you decide that a freelancer isn’t right for you, then you can always use one of these anonymous job-matching services How to Search for a New Job Without Your Boss Knowing How to Search for a New Job Without Your Boss Knowing How do you start looking for another job without your current boss finding out? Or what if you're worried about identity theft scams? An anonymous job search could be the answer. Read More to find yourself a skilled, full-time programmer that’ll fit your every need.

Which of these sites seems best to you? Or will you be using all of them? Why are you more interested in freelancers than employees? Share your thoughts with us below!

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