They are often overlooked in an organization. Some people would regard their position as “entry-level”. Perhaps a few would describe their job as mundane, monotonous, or mechanical.
The truth is the job of a Data Entry Clerk is a very important one. This is why companies should put serious effort in qualifying candidates for this position. You should be aware of the key skills of a Data Entry Clerk.
- What Are The Responsibilities Of A Data Entry Clerk?
Before you can identify the key skills needed to hire an effective Data Entry Clerk, you should first have a clear idea of what they do.
The job title seems self-explanatory; a data entry clerk is a person who enters data.
However, there is more to their job than just entering data into specific files.
Contrary to popular opinion, data entry clerks don’t work like robots; head tilted to one side, eyes focused on data, while fingers aggressively tap away on a keyboard.
They do more than just enter data. Here is a shortlist of responsibilities of a Data Entry Clerk:
- Checks and Validates the Accuracy of Data
Responsible companies understand the importance of maintaining accurate data. They want to make sure the data entry clerks understand the nature of the information before entering it. Thus, prior to going live, the Data Entry Clerk has to go undergo training.
He/she is taught what the different fields are about. They are oriented on what information to look out for. Likewise, data entry clerks are trained to keep their eyes out on erroneous entries.
For example, certain identification numbers have seven digits. If the entry only has six, then the Data Entry Clerk should identify the item as inaccurate and subject for double checking.
- Carries Out Corrections
The best data entry clerks are also proactive participants in the process. Once they verify an entry as a mistake, they will take the necessary steps to correct it. Taking proactive measures should be part of your data entry protocol.
After the data has been corrected, the Data Entry Clerk will take note of it. Usually they are asked to log the mistake in a special file where they can include a brief description of the error and the steps taken to correct it.
- Recommends Improvements on the Data Entry Process
As the company acquires more data, organizing all of the information becomes a greater challenge. New categories may be needed. It is possible that you may have acquired a new demographic for your products and services.
Unless these are efficiently sorted out and organized, you will not be able to capitalize on the value of the data.
For the reason that data entry clerks manage large volumes of data every day, management usual asks them to recommend improvements on the data entry process. Their experience in data entry is a valuable resource for improving data management systems.
- Maintains Strict Confidentiality
Breach of confidentiality is one of the biggest concerns of companies when it comes to data entry work. This is especially true for businesses that manage highly-sensitive information such as those involved in healthcare, insurance, and finance.
A Data Entry Clerk is tasked to observe and maintain strict confidentiality on all information that he/she manages. Any breach in data confidentiality will be disastrous for a company.
You must make sure that data management procedures are covered by strict rules or guidelines which must be imposed. You should have a schedule of penalties that will clearly identify the punitive measures to be undertaken per incident.
- What Should Be The Key Skills Of A Data Entry Clerk?
In view of these responsibilities, you should now have a better idea of the key skills needed of a Data Entry Clerk.
Knowing the key skills of a Data Entry Clerk will help fine-tune your recruitment and selection process. You can come up with guidelines on qualifying potential candidates for the position.
Keep in mind that when it comes to skills, you should not only focus on the “hard skills” or those that directly pertain to the technical aspects of data entry work. You should likewise identify the important “soft skills” or personality attributes that best define the best type of Data Entry Clerk.
In fact, most businesses are focusing more on soft skills. Having the right personalities in the team will contribute to upholding your desired organizational culture. You want a group of data entry clerks who can work together like a well-run machine.
Here is a rundown of the key skills you should look out for in a Data Entry Clerk:
- High-Level of Focus and Concentration
Perhaps the most important skill is a soft skill; an attribute. As we mentioned, data entry work can be described as monotonous. It is repetitive.
Data entry clerks come into work and go through volumes of data every day for several hours. After a while, the level of focus of concentration may drift and eventually wane.
When this happens, the door for making crucial mistakes opens leaving a very high possibility for the Data Entry Clerk to enter costly errors into the database.
Keep in mind that data entry clerks are human beings who are flawed by emotion and physical limitations. They can carry emotional distress into work. They can contract viruses and get sick. These factors will affect concentration and job performance.
Obviously, you cannot find a Data Entry Clerk without emotion or one who is impervious to illness. What you want is someone who can remove distractions while at work. When he/she enters the workplace, the only thing that matters is getting the job done right.
And if they do get sick, they have the sense of responsibility to inform you of their illness and have their condition attended to right away. They are so focused that they want to get back to the office as soon as they are cleared for work.
Again, the second most important skill is another attribute. You can have the fastest and most accurate Data Entry Clerk on your payroll. However, if he/she cannot be trusted, you are better off without such talent.
Many businesses have lost clients or have been closed down because of stolen data. In this age of the Internet where millions and billions of data are exchanged on a daily basis, loss of information can sound the death knell of a company.
Some of the data breaches come from within. Untrustworthy data entry clerks could copy or steal important data from your company.
Trust is earned over time. However, when hiring data entry clerks decisions have to be made based on the information you have on every applicant.
Take the time to conduct due diligence on your best candidates. Contact their previous employers. Run a simple Google check. Visit their social media accounts and see what they post about.
- Proficient with Required Software
Data entry clerks routinely work with various software programs. Most of the time they could be working with spreadsheet programs such as Excel. It will be great if you can find data entry clerks who are proficient on every feature of Excel.
Other programs frequently used by data entry clerks are word processors, database software, and Customer Relationship Management systems.
If you have a proprietary software program for data encoding, find out which of the top candidates have the easiest time navigating through your system.
Likewise, the Data Entry Clerk should also be comfortable handling computer hardware. Sometimes the Data Entry Clerk will be asked to handle printers, scanners, and other types of computer hardware to get the job done.
- Fast Typing Speed
It might seem like an unrealistic expectation, but the best Data Entry Clerk is one who combines quality and quantity. You want a Data Entry Clerk who is both accurate and can get a lot of work done. This means a candidate who has fast typing speed.
A good average for typing speed is 48 words per minute (WPM). However, there are data entry clerks who can go 60wpm. Again, you should find a balance between speed and precision.
It is perfectly fine to sacrifice a bit of speed as long as accuracy is not compromised. Over the long-run, accuracy is more important but do not disregard the need for speed.
- Great Interpersonal Skills
Why should a job that requires someone to remain seated behind a computer screen for hours encoding data need great interpersonal skills?
Data entry clerks do not work alone. They work with a team. When data is distributed to a Data Entry Clerk to encode, he/she is part of the team that is tasked to have all the information uploaded within a predetermined time-frame.
Yes, there are deadlines to be met. In outsourcing agreements, the service provider’s income depends on the volume of data that is accurately encoded and uploaded onto the portal.
The data entry clerks have to regularly communicate and work with one another to make sure every person on the team pulls his/her own weight.
Take the time to qualify the people you hire as data entry clerks. They have an important job to manage and the smallest mistakes can lead to the biggest problems of your company.
It would be a good idea to have a different criterion for qualifying personnel for every key position in your company.
Finally, if you are planning to outsource data entry work to a third party service provider, exercise the same due diligence process on the company as you would with an individual Data Entry Clerk applicant.