A resume database is the most basic job applicant software solution available. An entry level product performs 3 basic functions, automated electronic resume parsing, database indexing and keyword searches. Used properly this can save you both time and money.
How you may ask? In short, when you have information organized in such a way that it is located in a centralized location where comparisons can be easily made, you speed up the search process and minimize those inevitable search paths to nowhere.
Now let's look more closely at how you save time and money with a database tool that contains resumes.
The word parse is a techie word which basically means to analyze and interpret information and sort it accordingly. In this case, when an electronic resume is parsed, items such as the name, contact information, job skills, education, etc are collected and indexed in a database.
The problem with most parsing algorithms is accuracy. They have to make assumptions about how a document is laid out and formatted. These assumptions are right more often than not. In my experience a decent system gets about 70% to 75% of the information correct. Claims go as high as 90% but I'll leave that to you to test out...
Indexing the data is the next step. This is the function of a database. Words are indexed to more quickly locate them at a later point. The more sophisticated relational databases are use multiple files to speed the process further.
Just as you do with an online search engine, you can type in keywords and search for past candidates. Often you are given specific fields, like first name, last name, skills, phone number etc.
This is the part that saves time and energy. In a year, you will not remember the name of the candidate with the great sales background but if you remember one or two tidbits of information and voila! you should be able to quickly retrieve his resume from your database.
There are limits to what a database can do. It is great for archiving info and retrieving it but there is not often any extended capability to keep notes, track if the person was rejected for some reason, etc. For those types of functions, you would need to look at full blown applicant tracking systems.