Randy Lotz came up with the idea through sheer frustration. In his senior year of college, after interviewing with 24 different corporate recruiters, he complained to his father about the inefficiency of the job-hunting process.

"You're in the computer business," he chided John Lotz, general manager of IFI/Plenum Data Co., Wilmington, Del. "Why don't you computerize college students' re'sume's so employers can pick out the most qualified candidates?' "

Lotz presented the idea to his colleagues. "It hit us like a ton of bricks," recalls company vice president Harry Allcock, based in the organization's Alexandria, Va. office. "It was so simple, and we had the technology to do it."

Allcock researched the concept and discovered there was no such service in existence. Adapting the company's computers, which provide an index of U.S. patents, was "relatively simple." Getting college-placement officers interested was harder.

"In July of 1981 we mailed out 2,316 information packets about the Career Placement Registry , one to every placement officer at every four-year and two-year college in the country," says Allcock. "Many thought we were head hunters, which they don't permit, and threw the information out."

But after two CPR employes called each campus, more than 1,500 universities agreed to make the service available to their students. "A lot of them got very excited over the phone," says Allcock. "They seemed to feel this is the wave of the future."

On Jan. 18, CPR opened its data base of 1,040 students to more than 10,000 potential employers in 55 countries through Lockheed's DIALOG Information Services, Inc. In the first two weeks of operation, 214 organizations in 35 countries searched the re'sume' banks.

Today, more than 3,000 students from nearly 400 universities have paid $8 each to place their "mini-re'sume's" in the registry, and as the May "job panic" hits, CPR is entering new registrants at the rate of 100 per day. Within three years, Allcock hopes to have up to 100,000 students on file.

"Someday," he asserts, "this will be as routine as the SATs. You take a computerized test to apply to college, and you'll put your re'sume' in a data base to apply for a job."

On April 19, CPR opened a similar service for nonstudent job seekers. Experienced employes pay $15 to $40--depending on their salary requirements--to be entered into the "Experienced Personnel Registry." Searching the data bank costs DIALOG subscribers $1 per minute. Nonsubscribers may request a search at $35 for 12 mini-re'sume's.

Recruiters can search and cross-index a variety of criteria, such as academic major, job experience, language proficiency and special skills.

"We were doing a demonstration in London," says Allcock, "and a man was looking for an experienced accountant who was fluent in French and willing to live near Paris. We found three."

The biggest problem so far, he says, is the lack of data on actual placements. Since use of the system is confidential, "We can't find out who has matched." But before the first group of registrants is purged in August from the data bank, CPR plans to send out survey forms asking how the job hunt was resolved.

The system's biggest advantage, says Boston University School of Management's placement office director Robert C. Bruce, who helped design the service, is that "it opens students up to a whole vista of employers who don't come on campus to recruit. It's best for someone who isn't locked into working three blocks away, but is willing to accept a job anywhere in the world.

"It's not a panacea. It's foolish to put a re'sume' in there and sit back and wait for a call. But we tell our students that, particularly in a tight job market, it's an added job-hunting tool available for a very low cost."

Over the last few months, a handful of computerized services for experienced job seekers have started operation, says Bill Roach of CareerSystems, Inc. in Palm Beach, Fla., which went on line in February with 3,000 employes in their data bank and about 30 employers using the service.

"The problem for us is educating the public to this new concept," says Roach. "I feel like Ford must have felt when the automobile first came out."

Response from job recruiters and college-placement officers ranges from enthusiasm to skepticism.

"It's a great idea," says William Dickson, associate dean for career counseling and placement at Vanderbilt University's Owen Graduate School of Management, which offered the CPR service, free, to its 102 graduates. "Particularly for a relatively new school like us. It makes our students available to organizations who may not come out recruiting to Nashville, Tenn.

"Coming to campus to recruit is extremely expensive and rather inefficient. This is the application of advanced technology to what has been fundamentally an extremely primitive system."

Harvard University chose not to promote CPR to its graduating seniors, says Career Services director Martha P. Leape, "because we hadn't felt at this point in time it would be a real benefit to our students.

"We're convinced employers react better to students when they take the initiative to contact employers they are interested in. They may have many talents and intellectual skills that may not come across in a computer match."

While the idea is "intriguing," says Peter Crist, vice president of Russell Reynolds, one of the country's largest executive recruiting firms, "it's probably not for people who want to move quickly. It seems more suited to someone interested in considering new offers but not in a hurry to get a job."

But even if computerized job hunting becomes successful, Crist says, it won't put executive recruiters out of business. "We handle very senior level positions. Corporations likely to use the service are those looking for mid- and lower-level employes and managers. Companies are not about to go to a data bank to find a president."