How to Hire a Data Entry Specialist in 5 Easy Steps

By Robert Half December 3, 2018 at 10:30am

Today’s strong economy has spurred business growth and increased business activity throughout the U.S. And when business expands, demand for administrative professionals often grows right along with it. Because of this, many companies are investing in additional office support to help them navigate increasing workloads and even leverage new technology.

One particular administrative position gaining demand is data entry specialist. Professionals in this role are invaluable, inputting business data into digital platforms and helping companies implement technology solutions to eliminate paperwork and streamline processes.

Here are five tips to help you hire a data entry specialist for your company:

1. Identify the duties

Before you begin your hiring process, clearly identify your business needs and determine the tasks you need your new employee to perform — and the challenges you would like them to help your organization overcome. Some common duties of data entry specialists include:

  • Prioritizing and batching material for entry
  • Inputting material from a wide variety of sources quickly and accurately
  • Taking customer orders and entering them into tracking systems

If your company uses any specific systems, add that to the list, as well. “Sometimes, experience with a database like Salesforce or Zendesk is crucial so a new hire is already up to speed on Day One,” said Kim Garstein, an OfficeTeam senior vice president in Los Angeles.

2. Find the right candidates

“Employers want accuracy and speed, but prefer accuracy over speed,” Garstein said, suggesting a benchmark of someone who can accurately type at least 50 words-per-minute.

Sandy Saylors, vice president of OfficeTeam in Chattanooga, Tenn., backs up these points with even more specifics. “In my experience, companies are in good shape with someone who can achieve at least a 98 percent degree of accuracy while hitting 8,000 keystrokes-per-hour,” she said.

Data entry positions may be entry, mid- or senior level, so they can appeal to a wide range of people. “Many of our candidates for these positions are new graduates who are looking for entry-level positions within large companies, where getting your foot in the door can be challenging,” Saylors said. “They may also be individuals who have worked in retail or restaurants and are looking for a regular Monday-through-Friday, 9-to-5 schedule.”

As such, it can pay to think outside of the box if you want to know how to hire a data entry specialist. “One of our best candidates was a woman who had been a stay-at-home mom for five years,” Saylors said. “She’d struggled to find employment because she had a large employment gap in her resume. She had just enough technical skill for what one of our clients needed, and they ended up liking her so much they hired her full time.”

This illustrates a trend in the administrative industry, as well as others. According to the OfficeTeam Salary Guide, employers are realizing there is no perfect candidate. Instead of waiting on a prospect that checks every box, many are hiring for their most critical needs and offering training as needed to help new employees succeed.

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3. Interview wisely

Don’t give this critical part of the hiring process short shrift. As an employer, this is your chance to speak with candidates face-to-face and get additional information about their experience and technical skills.

When interviewing for a data entry specialist, ask about the candidate’s preferred work environment. According to Garstein, “This type of work can be on the mundane side of things for long stretches, and you want someone who is comfortable in front of nothing but a computer for substantial periods of time.”

Here are some examples of interview questions:

  • How do you establish accuracy while you input data?
  • What experience do you have with office applications?
  • Can you give me an example of a time you found and corrected a data entry error?
  • How do you organize and prioritize your work when you’re compiling and sorting large amounts of data?

The interview is also your time to gauge soft skills. For example, ideal candidates for data entry positions will be reliable, eager to learn and coachable. Carefully planned interview questions can help you get a measure of these traits and get a glimpse of how well the applicant will fit with your workplace culture.

Here are some sample questions to gauge appropriate attributes:

  • What is it about this job that appeals to you most?
  • Data entry can be tedious work. What are your strategies for staying focused?
  • What is your ideal workspace to do data entry?
  • Describe how your attention to detail had an impact on your last project or job.
  • Do you consider yourself an introvert or extravert?

“A solitary job such as this calls for an introvert rather than an extravert,” says Saylors, “or someone who is energized more by working alone than in social situations.”

This is also the candidate’s opportunity ask questions and get into details about the role. Remember, hiring is a two-way street, and this dialogue is invaluable in determining if the candidate is likely to be successful in the position and with your team.

4. Determine fair pay

Compensation is another crucial aspect of your hiring strategy. In order to attract the best candidates, you must offer competitive pay. Keep in mind that the best candidates may be considering multiple job offers and may attempt to negotiate a higher salary or additional benefits, which is why it’s best to pay at the same level as or higher than your competitors.

Salaries can vary depending on the type of role, the duties assigned and the candidate’s work experience. The Salary Guide can help. For instance, the 2019 Salary Guide indicates that starting pay for data entry specialists in the U.S. ranges from $25,000 to $36,500. Salaries for senior data entry specialist positions, which require additional experience, may range from $31,000 to $43,000. And those can increase or decrease depending on where you’re located. Our online Salary Calculator can help you determine the local variance for your area.

5. Edge out the competition

When you find the right candidate for your open position, timing is critical — especially for in-demand candidates. Don’t hesitate in making an offer. In times of low unemployment, people who are well-suited for a role may be interviewing with several companies, so be ready to extend an offer as quickly as possible — even one that’s conditional upon reference checks. Both Saylors and Garstein caution that companies they work with have lost out on top candidates by dragging out the hiring process and not making the offer soon enough.

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Final word on how to hire a data entry specialist

Remember you can provide training to help inexperienced workers succeed. You’re also more likely to earn their loyalty if you create an office where you show how much you recognize their value, celebrate their achievements and contribute to their career development.

Though an ideal candidate may not be available, you can increase your chances of a great hire by identifying your needs and expectations ahead time, interviewing efficiently and thoroughly, and offering a competitive salary.

A staffing agency can help you find the right person. Recruiters have access to a broader range of candidates, can vet applicants more quickly, and will keep you abreast of the latest hiring and compensation trends.

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