Data Entry Skills: Definition and Examples of Key Skills
Updated 22 May 2023
Businesses and organisations manage large volumes of data which they use to improve their efficiency, costs savings and operations. Data entry abilities help individuals input, update and store this data in systems or databases for further use. Exploring skills related to data entry can help you understand their value and how to develop them. In this article, we define data entry skills, outline key skills you can familiarise yourself with, offer you tips for improving these abilities and show you how to highlight data entry abilities in job applications.
Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.
What are data entry skills?
Data entry skills involve accurately capturing, inputting and assessing information using computer software or systems. It can involve managing simple data, such as phone numbers or email addresses in a spreadsheet, or more complex information, such as financial audit material in a specialised online database. Data entry abilities are beneficial for any role involving generating, assessing or updating large volumes of information. These skills can also prepare you for specialised information management roles, including data analysis, machine learning and business intelligence, systems and science.
Examples of data entry skills
The following skills can help you perform a range of data entry tasks:
Attention to detail
Data entry can involve working with thousands of repetitive variables, such as percentages and other figures. Attention to detail ensures that you input each variable carefully to ensure every entry is accurate. It can help you detect missing and inaccurate data that could compromise a database's quality or render any reports inaccurate. An example of attention to detail is cross-referencing data with multiple sources to determine its accuracy before adding it to a database.
Historically, businesses and organisations manually captured data on paper. Many now use online databases, allowing them to securely store information in a scalable and shareable way. Inputting data into these databases can require a certain level of typing speed and accuracy. Recruiters or hiring managers may ask you to meet specific typing standards and regulations that benchmark your abilities. For example, a law firm can request a secretary have a typing speed of at least 70 words per minute and a minimum accuracy of 90%.
Data entry can be time-sensitive or involve strict deadlines. For example, a retailer may want a sales dataset listing the value and volume of products sold on the first day of a month to compare it to the previous period's figures and create new goals. Lawyers also request that legal clerks update a case database by a specific date for use in a court case. Managing your time appropriately to meet your data entry responsibilities can ensure you consistently provide accurate work.
You typically use basic research skills to update or troubleshoot database information. This skill helps you verify existing data from other sources or seek more recent or reliable information. This can involve researching the internet or referring to hard copies of documents. An example of research skills in data entry is a party planning business updating its supplier list. An administrative assistant might use search engines and make phone calls to confirm if the suppliers' email addresses and contact points are correct.
Inputting data into a database is often simple. Occasionally, the information set is large or complicated, and the individuals performing data entry are working independently without supervision. Being self-motivated encourages them to complete tasks promptly and according to expectations and helps them to concentrate and perform tasks independently. For example, a public relations agency hiring a freelance transcriber to create meeting minutes benefits from having someone who's self-motivated and can function outside the office.
During data entry, one error can compromise an entire database and any insights it generates. Being organised can help anyone managing multiple data entry responsibilities simultaneously avoid this. Being well-organised can involve documenting and checking your progress and being able to access a specific database on request. For example, a travel agency assistant with strong organisational skills can offer insights into the number of trips people have booked to different countries by knowing where this information is and how to access it.
How to improve data entry skills
The following tips can help you improve your skills:
1. Practise typing
Typing is a physical skill that you can improve over time. Start by identifying your current speed and accuracy levels and creating realistic goal improvements to work towards each month. Frequent practice can also help you identify areas of improvement to enhance this skill. For example, you can take an online class or short course in an industry-specific form of shorthand so that you can capture meeting notes and transcribe recordings quickly. You can also complete courses or classes that help improve your typing accuracy and speed by the minute.
2. Improve your research skills
Different data types can require different approaches. Qualitative data is expressed in words and documents subjective experiences, thoughts or feelings. Quantitative data is expressed in numbers and factual insights. To improve your quantitative and qualitative data capture, entry and analysis skills you can complete relevant training. For example, you can complete a short course in focus group design and moderation, showing you how to host and moderate face-to-face and online focus groups, with advice on undertaking data collection and analysis and translating data into actionable findings for market research purposes.
3. Become certified
Industries can create tools and software that help automate basic data entry tasks, improve database quality or manage specific data types. Becoming a certified user of a type of software or tool can make your resume more attractive and demonstrate how you can add value to a business or organisation. For example, if you work for an accounting business, you can become certified in using Xero Payroll software. This can help you execute basic payroll tasks using Xero software.
Data entry skills at work
Here are a few tips for improving your data entry abilities at work:
Request feedback. Requesting feedback from team members reliant on your data entry can help you find areas for improvement. For example, request that they complete an anonymous form asking them how you could improve your data entry.
Use ergonomics. Ergonomics involves making a workspace more comfortable and accessible for you to use. As data entry can involve hours of typing, ergonomics can prevent repetitive strain injuries and improve your productivity, so facilitate this by maintaining a good posture, ensuring you have adequate lighting and taking regular breaks to stretch.
Request more responsibility. If you began your career performing entry-level data entry tasks, request more responsibilities or access to more complex tasks as you improve your skills. This can keep your skill set current and show team members you're proactive.
How to highlight data entry skills
Use the tips below to draw attention to your data entry abilities in job applications:
Data entry skills for a resume
Job applications can begin by requesting that you submit a resume detailing your contact details, skills, education and experience. If a job advert mentions a specific type of data entry as a desirable proficiency, mention it in your resume by listing it as part of your experience or outlining related software you use in your skills section. For example, if a job requires cloud database experience, mention if you worked in a public or hybrid cloud and what managed database-as-a-service provider you used.
Data entry skills for a cover letter
Cover letters can accompany a resume to summarise its contents. Mention noteworthy data entry achievements in your cover letter to impress the recruiter or hiring manager. For example, when applying for a high-pressure government data entry role, mention that you moved information to a new database, improving document pulling time by 60%.
Data entry skills for an interview
If a business shortlists you, it may ask you to attend an interview. This can involve them asking questions on how you manage different data management scenarios. Prepare for these questions by memorising examples of where you overcame a challenge or made a noteworthy achievement. For example, you can mention how you located missing data after a fire destroyed the hard copies.
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