With the advent of online job applications, one of the common complaints from job seekers is that the process is essentially a "black hole." In other words, they feel as if they are sending their information into a void, never to be heard from again. It's easy to understand why they feel this way, of course. A lot of times, organizations will not even send an e-mail to tell a job candidate they weren't chosen. This isn't out of disrespect, as you know as a hiring manager; it's simply that so many job applications are sent out everyday that it is virtually impossible to respond to each one individually. Thanks to the technology we have at our disposal, however, there are ways to get back to job applicants so that they feel respected.
As I mentioned before, due to staffing limitations and simple realities, it is nearly impossible for an organization to personally respond to each job app they receive. The key word here, however, is personally. Thanks to the technology that most e-mail programs have, it is possible to send an auto response everytime a candidate sends their information in. While an automatic response may seem impersonal, it actually does give some assurance to the applicant. They will know that their application did arrive, and that there was no error in the submission. In this message, you should let the candidate know what the next step in the process will be. Let them know that they will be contacted within a set time period if they are chosen for a job interview. That way, they will know that if they aren't contacted, it means they weren't chosen. When it comes down to it, a job applicant deserves to know what to expect from the process; the worst thing you can do is leave someone in the dark, as it reflects badly on you as an organization.
You should also make sure to create reasonable expectations for the kind of response job seekers should expect in terms of response to their job applications. You can do this by putting a message in your job description, or in the automatic message that is sent when an applicant submits their information. You should say something along the lines of this: "Since we receive so many applications, we will be unable to provide answers to any questions you might have." Essentially, it should be a message that lets the individual know what kind of feedback they should expect from you. Even though it might not seem like much, this simple gesture can go along way to earning the respect of an applicant.
While it might not seem like a big deal, if you show all of your job applicants the same level of respect, it could lead them to recommend your organization to their friends/family, even if they don't get the job they wanted. Because, at the end of the day, treating a candidate the way we would want to be treated ourselves is not only the right thing to do, but it can also set you apart from other companies.