How to Build a Resume Database

Mario Ragma/Hemera/Getty Images

A relational database is a method of storing data using one or more tables that are all connected to a master table. Not only is a database a reliable way of storing information, but it's also easily searchable, which can make it ideal for storing information about job applicants and their resumes.

Setting up a database can be time-intensive, especially if you're accepting resumes as PDF files and Word documents because someone will need to convert them and import the information into your database system, such as Excel. Using an online database with web forms can be a much faster approach because the applicants will be entering their information into the database for you.

How to Create an Online Resume Database

There are countless options for building an online resume database. With these solutions, job applicants enter their information in an online form and each entry is placed in a database that you can access and search through to find the best applicants.

To do this yourself, you'll need to know SQL, MySQL or one of the other flavors of a web-based database. You'll also need to know HTML and CSS to create the web forms and a language like JavaScript or PhP to send the information from the web forms to the database.

If you use WordPress for your website, you also have the option to use a plug-in. This can be ideal because WordPress already uses SQL. Free plug-ins usually give visitors a form to fill out and then automatically send the application to you in a CSV format via email. However, premium plug-ins can store the information in your SQL database so you can use advanced (Boolean) searches to find the ideal candidates.

How to Create a Resume Database in Excel

If you're familiar with Excel, you may already know that it can also be used as a database if you link two tables together: a master table and one or more details tables. Also known as child or slave tables, the details tables are linked to the master table. There are several ways to create a database based on resumes you already have in Word or another document format.

One of the less labor-intensive ways to use Excel is to put all of your resumes in a folder and convert each to TXT format. You can then import each one into an Excel spreadsheet using the Text/CSV import option under Excel's Data tab. Copy the cell containing the applicant's name, as well as any other important information like contact information, education and current position, and then paste it as a link to the appropriate cell in the master spreadsheet.

You can also paste a link to the original resume document by right-clicking a cell in the master sheet, selecting Link, then Existing File or Web Page and then selecting the resume file.

How to Use Boolean Searches in File Explorer

While File Explorer isn't, of course, a database, it does offer some of the functionality you need when going through resumes. This may be the best solution if you're only hiring for one or two positions because it doesn't require you converting documents into tables or spreadsheets.

If you move all of your resumes into a folder, you can use Boolean searches to retrieve those from the most qualified candidates. Simply open the folder in File Explorer and then type your search parameters in the Search field at the top of the window.

Suppose, for example, you're looking for someone to help with your website, you can type the criteria you need in the Search field to find the best resumes, such as:

  • (CSS HTML): returns resumes with both words in any order.
  • "web design": returns resumes with this exact phrase, including "web designer."
  • "New Jersey" OR "NJ": returns resumes with either name.
  • date:>19/01/01: returns resumes created or modified after January 1, 2019.

Note that the words you're searching for aren't case-sensitive, but operators like "OR" must be capitalized.