It is purely an exercise in practicality
I just hired a student employee for the summmer and after posting ads to the local post-secondary schools, I was flooded with no less than 60 applications in less than 2 days.
In and around my other work, writing the ad and submitting it to the various electronic job boards took a day.
Reading through the applications took 2 days. I called back 6 for interviews, which together took up the better part of the next day. The next day, four of those got a call saying they didn’t get the job and some feedback on their interview. Two were asked to provide their references. The next day, one got the job and the other, the bad news. All 6 interviewees received confirmation emails to back up the phone calls.
So after all this, I’m running behind at least 4 days on my other work… which doesn’t actually happen since I end up staying late 2 hours for at least a week and only doing a quarter-assed job.
If I were to call back all 60 applicants, I would have likely spent two more days, especially since I consider it important to give feedback if they want it.
So… no it is not about decency, but about being inundated.
And since I believe in feedback, here’s some advice if you’re looking for a job: The person(s) weeding out the flood are looking for anything that sets an applicant apart.
In my case, I asked for applications to be sent by fax or email. Any phone calls were automatically put in the “no” pile: “Thanks for your interest. Email me your application and I’ll get it processed right away.”
The ad mentioned that PDFs were preferred so those that were Word docs got put on the bottom of the pile. Spelling errors were also bottom listed, including the obvious typos like letter inversions. Details count.
Because the job is in design, the short list all had nicely laid out covers and resumes. There were a number of applications that used the exact same boilerplate provided by the school. Boring!
Don’t send hardcopy. Paper is now a precious resource and it only proves you are willing to waste it. If your PDF or website is interesting, you will be asked for more.
Incredulously, some design students did not bring their portfolio to the interview. Most of the engineering students that came did not bring photos or documentation of their projects. This is the ideal moment to wow your prospective employer.
Finally, if you get an interview, don’t be afraid to engage the interviewers… ask questions about the company. It shows interest and critical thinking. After all, the meeting is less about your skills and more about your fit. It also makes sense to determine if the company fits you.