How to hire data entry specialists
Don’t assume that data entry specialists are interchangeable and that you should make price your only criterion. The following tips will increase the likelihood of finding the best talent for your needs:
1. Consider the type of data you need entered.
Different tasks require slightly different skill sets. For instance, if the project entails inputting a long series of numbers, you’ll want a clerk with experience in 10-key data entry—working with the numeral keys that appear to the right of standard keyboards or on a separate keyboard attachment. Ten-key data entry is a distinct specialty; someone who can type 70 words a minute might not be the most efficient when dealing with strings of numbers.
When the task requires inputting data extracted from sources such as questionnaires and documents into a spreadsheet, however, 10-key typing may not be important. What would be vital is the ability to quickly and accurately scan documents to cull the correct information, and a strong command of the language. If the specialist needs to extract the data from websites or social media, familiarity with the web is also important.
2. See if candidates have experience in your field or market sector.
This can be helpful if you work in a specialized field, such as insurance or banking. It’s certainly not crucial, but a specialist who is already familiar with the types of forms or spreadsheets you use will likely require less time to get up to speed.
3. Make sure the candidates are experienced with the software and any other necessary equipment, such as optical scanners.
Also make sure they have a reliable Internet connection.
4. If privacy regulations are an issue in your industry, ask candidates what steps they take to ensure compliance.
Don’t assume that a professional’s computer is equipped with encryption software or that they have a lock on their office door, for instance. If HIPAA, PCI, or other types of regulatory standards are required, be sure the professional can meet them.
5. Ask the candidates how they ensure accuracy.
Speed is important, but not if accuracy is the trade-off.
6. Spell out your expectations in advance.
This is critical to any successful working relationship, but it bears emphasizing. Let candidates know the turnaround time, the volume of work, the particular needs of the task, and how you want to communicate before you hire.
How to shortlist data entry freelancers
As you’re browsing available data entry consultants, it can be helpful to develop a shortlist of the freelancers you may want to interview. You can screen profiles on criteria such as:
- Software. Do you prefer working with Microsoft Access data tables or Google Sheets? You’ll want a data entry specialist who can slide right into your existing workflow.
- Expertise. You know you need help with data entry, but do you also require basic data science skills (e.g. data mining) to complete the project?
- Feedback. Check reviews from past clients for glowing testimonials or red flags that can tell you what it’s like to work with a particular data entry specialist.
How to write an effective data entry job post
Data entry specialists vary. Some have specific industry experience, work with niche systems, or are skilled at organizing information from various sources. You can get more qualified proposals and speed up your search by being more specific with your needs.
Before posting a job, ask yourself:
- Is this person working with sensitive data? Depending on the level of sensitivity, consider what proof points you need to see before you can trust working with them. Online talent solutions like Upwork provide job success scores, reviews of past projects, and more to help you vet accurately.
- Do I need someone with specialized skills? Some data can be tricky to enter accurately if the person doesn’t know industry acronyms and vocabulary well. Such as when transcribing medical data from audio files.
- How will we communicate? There are experienced data entry specialists located worldwide, figuring out how you’ll communicate and share documents is important to plan upfront. Will you be handling most communication through cloud-based programs? Will they require VPN access?
- Will they be using any special systems? You can ramp up a project faster by choosing people who are familiar with the programs they’ll be working in, such as Zendesk or Salesforce.
- What will they be doing? The more specific you are, the easier it is to identify the right person for a project. If they’ll be analyzing financial data for errors, will someone with a bookkeeping background be beneficial? Will they be quickly inputting numbers from several sources, requiring a 10-key speed of 10,000 keystrokes-per-hour (KPH) with 98% accuracy?
Sample data entry project description
Keep in mind that many people use the term “job description,” but a full job description is only needed for employees. When engaging a freelancer as an independent contractor, you typically just need a statement of work, job post, or any other document that describes the work to be done.
Your job post needs to clearly answer three questions:
- What do you need done?
- When do you need it?
- What are the start and end dates for your project?
Answering these questions can not only help you attract more qualified talent, but you’ll also receive more accurate proposals.
Here’s how it may look:
Title: Data entry specialist to organize and update a content management system
Our content team produces 25 original industry articles each week and generates 1.5M+ viewers a month. We have 3 years of content that needs to be organized into appropriate categories and subcategories to optimize SEO. To keep it organized, you’ll also be creating a process for our writers to easily follow. You’ll be communicating with writers and the content manager to establish workflow needs. You may also assist in researching content management systems (CMS) and inputting data into the new system.
- Accurately organize 2,500+ articles into the appropriate categories and remove duplicate tags
- Establish a process for writers to track article requests and submissions
- Provide weekly content performance reports based on Google Analytics metrics
- Setting up new CMS and inputting data
- Available 25 hours a week for up to 8 weeks
- Familiar with Google Analytics and Excel
- Include the words “glass table” in the first line of your cover letter
Please submit your proposal by [month], [date], [year].
Did you notice the request to include “glass table” in the cover letter? Adding something like this is optional, but when you need someone detailed, it’s a good way to see if they’re observant and follow instructions well. It’s also a quick way to filter through a pile of proposals.
Ready to accurately capture your data in a digital format that can be leveraged by your business? Log in and post your data entry job on Upwork today.
DATA ENTRY SPECIALISTS FAQ
What does a data entry specialist do?
Data entry specialists manually input data into spreadsheets, tables, and databases. Whether it’s performing research to populate a company spreadsheet with potential sales leads or transferring information from physical records into a digital database, a data entry expert can help.
Here’s a quick overview of the skills you should look for in data entry freelancers:
Quick, reliable, and detail-oriented data entry consultants help businesses take that first essential step in data processing.
Why hire data entry specialists?
The trick to finding top data entry specialists is to identify your needs. Is this a simple project to perform web research and enter data into a spreadsheet? Or will they be given remote access to scanned documents that they can read and transcribe into your digital database? The cost of your data entry project will depend largely on your scope of work and the specific skills needed to bring your project to life.
How much does it cost to hire a data entry specialist?
Rates can vary due to many factors, including expertise and experience, location, and market conditions.
- An experienced data entry specialist may command higher fees but also work faster, have more-specialized areas of expertise, and deliver higher-quality work.
- A contractor who is still in the process of building a client base may price their data entry services more competitively.
Which one is right for you will depend on the specifics of your project.