It is often perceived as an entry level position but Data Entry clerks play an important role in the success of a business. In this age of Big Data, businesses have access to numbers, figures, and statistics that provide a strong empirical basis for effective decision-making. Data that is entered incorrectly can trigger a cascading effect whereby one erroneous decision leads to more unwanted outcomes.
Thus, businesses should take the recruitment, selection, and training processes for data entry clerks seriously. Even if your company categorizes data entry as an entry- level position, focus on getting clerks who have the skills necessary to enter data accurately.
What Skills Should You Look For In Data Entry Clerks?
A solid qualification process focuses on the desired hard and soft skills. Hard skills refer to the technical and fundamental proficiencies that are required for the job. These are the skills that have been acquired through education, training, and on-the-job experience.
Soft skills refer to the behavioural attributes the best define the personality of the candidate. More specifically, recruiters look for attributes that are best suited to the demands of the job.
What hard and soft skills should you be looking for in good data entry clerks?
- Basic Knowledge of Computers and Key Software Programs
Data entry clerks spend most, if not all, of their time behind a computer screen. They are constantly uploading data from a file unto a CRM or a database. A Data Entry Clerk must have basic knowledge of operating a computer and running key software programs.
A spreadsheet program like Excel is an important type of software for Data Entry clerks to be proficient with. They should know the shortcuts and various commands in Excel so they can get the job done on time.
In addition to Excel, a Data Entry Clerk should also be familiar with other software programs that are specifically designed for data entry work. Among the most popular data entry programs are Ui Path Robotic Process Automation, AutoEntry, and Zed Axis.
- Fast Typing Speed
Ideally, a good Data Entry Clerk should have a combination of speed and accuracy. We will discuss accuracy later as one of the most important soft skills for a Data Entry Clerk.
Fast typing speed is a must because a Data Entry Clerk goes through volumes of data. The faster the clerk can upload the data the sooner key performance reports can be made for the company’s top decision makers.
How fast should a Data Entry Clerk be able to type?
On the average, companies expect their data entry clerks to have a typing speed of 50wpm. However, the larger companies may prefer candidates who have a typing speed of 70wpm.
- Excellent Communication Skills – Written and Verbal
If the Data Entry Clerk is involved in transcription work, he/she cannot afford to submit text files that have spelling and grammatical errors. These types of mistakes can be costly.
For example, in the legal profession, the wrong use of punctuation can change the context of a statement.
Some companies also assign other tasks to data entry clerks such as inbound call, chat, and email support. For the reason that they are representing your company, the data entry clerks should be able to respond fluently and intelligibly.
Lastly, having excellent communication skills is important because data entry clerks regularly communicate with their teammates and supervisors. Constant communication is important in order to avoid mistakes.
- Excellent Comprehension
Contrary to popular opinion, the job of a Data Entry Clerk is not mechanical. Yes, they are constantly uploading data unto a database. However, they also have to stay focused and alert to spot mistakes or potential erroneous entries.
If a clerk is unsure of an entry, he/she should relay the matter to his/her supervisor right away.
Having excellent comprehension is particularly important for data entry clerks who do transcription work. Uploading incorrect entries can have catastrophic consequences. This is especially true in the area of healthcare.
- Knowledge in Operating Standard Office Equipment
Data entry clerks are not limited to the computer. Within an office environment, they may have to operate other pieces of office equipment such as:
- Dictation machines
A Data Entry Clerk who can operate different kinds of office equipment will have more value for your business.
- Meticulous; High Attention to Detail
You can have a Data Entry Clerk who can type 70wpm but If he/she makes a lot of mistakes, all that typing speed will end up slowing down your business.
A Data Entry Clerk must have a meticulous approach to work. Even though a typical Data Entry workflow has 2-3 tiers for Quality Assurance (QA), the clerk should take the time to review his/her entries.
Performing a review for example, after completing a page of data, will go a long way in ensuring the precision and accuracy of the information.
- Excellent Organizational and Time Management Skills
Is it possible for a Data Entry Clerk to turn in a large volume of work without any mistakes and within schedule? Yes, if the clerk has excellent organizational and time management skills.
If a Data Entry Clerk has strong organizational and time management skills, he/she can better prioritize the tasks that need to be done and become more productive.
It will be easier to hit goals, maintain the timetable, reduce the risk of committing mistakes, and meet deadlines.
In data entry, inaccurately entered data is very risky and costly to the business. If an erroneous data is not addressed immediately, it would affect the entire business process of the company. Inaccurate encoding is the single biggest concern of companies when it comes to data entry.
For data to be inputted accurately, the clerk must have a combination of attributes:
Data entry may be regarded as an entry- level position. However, that does not make it an easy job. It can feel mechanical, monotonous, and burdensome. The fatigue that Data Entry clerks feel is very real.
The right candidate for the job must understand the difficulties and still remain committed to perform to the best of his/her abilities every single day.
Putting It Together: How To Recruit And Train Data Entry Clerks
Finding the best data entry clerks may come down to a game of numbers. Play it conservatively by lowering the probability of hiring a good Data Entry Clerk to 2%. Thus, if you want to hire 2 data entry clerks, you must build a pool of:
2 good data entry clerks/0.02% = 100 Data Entry Clerk applicants
There are many sources that you can harness to get applicants for your Data Entry Clerk position. You can look for candidates of place a job post in these sources:
- Classified ads
- Online job market sites
- Freelancer sites
- Social media networks
You may also want to revisit your 201 files. Identify previous applicants who barely missed the interview. You may want to invite them again.
How about referrals or recommendations? You can view your contacts list and identify connections who may have hired data entry clerks before. You may also want to use the focus groups that you are a member of in your social media networks.
Start a focus group discussion. Ask the group members for their recommendations on data entry clerks as well as sources of data entry talent.
Once you have 100 applicants, separate the best candidates by implementing the following criteria:
- Hard skills
- Soft skills
- Work experience
- Educational attainment
- Certifications, special training
When you have come up with a list of candidates that you are confident with, conduct a qualifying process which includes the following:
- Preliminary Interview – Focus on the contents of the resume
- Basic Office Skills Testing – Computer, Internet, Organization, Filing, and Documentation
- Data Entry Test – Ask each candidate to upload 300 names and details onto a spreadsheet
- Group Work – Divide the candidates evenly into teams; ask them to enter 1,000 names and details onto a spreadsheet
Each stage of the qualifying process should have a specific number of points. The data entry candidates who have the 2 highest scores will be hired.
If you are using proprietary Data Entry software, train and orient the clerks on how to use the program. You should give the clerks at least 1 week to be familiar with the features and commands of your program.
While they are getting used to the program, make sure you are constantly monitoring their progress. You can assign them a schedule once you are 100% confident with their level of proficiency.
Training is not a one-time thing. Make it a point to track their performance. Print out records and reports that measure their level of accuracy and work capacity. Identify the weak points and if necessary, ask them to undergo further training.
Data entry is in demand. Businesses are constantly looking for good data entry clerks because the job has a high turnover rate. Many clerks use data entry as a springboard for other careers. The good ones are often promoted and move on to manage greater responsibilities.
If the economy is booming, you should expect unemployment to be down. It creates a situation where demand is greater than supply or more jobs available compared to the number of people seeking employment.
When the job market in running dry of talent, recruiters make 2 crucial mistakes in hiring:
- Hiring the first person that applies for the job.
- Foregoing quality in favour of quantity.
Is the first person who applies for the job the worst of the lot? No, quite possibly, he/she could be the best. However, by hiring the first person who applies for the job, you are denying your company the opportunity to sign up better talent.
Recruitment must always have a qualification process in place. You must have guidelines or standards as reference points to help your hiring officers weed out the sub-standard applicants from the best potential candidates.