Discover what lies behind the popular workplace trend — rage applying – and how it can impact your career

Rage Applying: What Is It & Why Are Some Employees Doing It?

“Rage applying” is a term that recently gained popularity on social media. It refers to the act of applying for multiple jobs in a state of anger or frustration. Often in response to a negative experience at work. Although not a new idea, rage applying is the most recent expression of work angst felt by Gen Z and millennial workers.

This is your sign to keep rage-applying to jobs,” says a TikToker with username Redweez, “I got mad at work, and I rage-applied to, like, 15 jobs. And then I got a job that gave me a $25,000 raise, and it’s a great place to work. So, keep rage-applying. It’ll happen.”

The message resonates. Since it was posted in early December of 2022, this short video has over 390K “likes” and over 20K shares.

Is Rage Applying a Real Trend?

While “rage applying” is not a widely recognized trend in the workforce, there is little doubt that Gen Z and millennial workers are more prone to change jobs than older generations. A recent survey found that 72% of Gen Z and 66% of millennial respondents are planning on changing jobs over the next 12 months. This is compared to 55% of Gen X and only 30% of Baby Boomers.

Rage applying, along with other recent trends like “quiet quitting” and “acting your wage” involve a shift in how workers approach their jobs and careers. However, they differ in their underlying motivations and behaviors. Rage applying is an impulsive and emotional action. Quiet quitting and acting your wage are more passive responses to a negative work environment. Regardless of the underlying causes, they all point to a real and concerning trend, a lack of engagement.

A recent Gallup poll revealed that more than 50% of American workers reported only “showing up” to work. They lack any significant connection to their job. Additionally, 17% of workers described themselves as “actively disengaged.” These employees may engage in negative behaviors such as gossiping, spreading rumors, and treating clients or customers poorly. This type of toxic attitude can spread, leading to negative impacts for the company.

Why Are Workers Rage Applying?

There are many factors that can contribute to rage applying among younger workers. Perhaps the most important reasons currently arise from pandemic fallout. Many young workers entered the job market during the pandemic and may feel isolated and lack relationships within the company. This can lead to low levels of workplace commitment.

Also arising from the pandemic are financial hardships that disproportionately affect Gen Z and millennials, such as inflation, that is pricing young professionals out of housing markets and leaving them struggling to pay for groceries. In addition, many also have crippling student debt.

When these factors are combined with frustrations about workloads, managers, and compensation levels, young workers are ready to find something better. They remember something else learned during the pandemic – life is too short to spend it working at a job you hate.

The Benefits and Drawbacks of Rage Applying for Jobseekers

While rage applying may feel cathartic in the moment, is it a good idea? Many respondents to the viral TikTok video reported success in finding new, more lucrative, and fulfilling employment. However, those responses are anecdotal and don’t necessarily line up with reality.

Recent research by The Muse found that of more than 2,500 respondents that changed jobs, 72% said they’ve experienced “shift shock.” Coined by Muse co-founder, shift shock refers to the unhappy realization after you start a new job that the position or company is very different from what you were led to believe.

These findings underscore the importance of approaching a job search process in a strategic and thoughtful manner. Applying to jobs when angry or upset can lead to poor decisions and a lack of focus. Applicants can mis-identify the types of roles that best fit their skills and experience. Ending up wasting time applying to jobs they are not qualified for or which do not align with their career goals or interests.

The best advice for potential rage appliers is to take the time to focus on positions that align with their skills and interests and tailor applications to each specific job. Seeking support from friends, family, or a professional career coach can also be helpful in navigating the job search process.

The Potential Benefits and Drawbacks of Rage Applying for Employers

While on the face of it, companies can quickly snap up these qualified rage appliers, the risks are significant. Candidates who rage apply may not know what they are looking for in new position. Hiring is an expensive process. Onboarding someone who is running away from a bad experience instead of running toward your job opportunity can lead to a costly mistake.

However, companies are struggling to find qualified employees and may not identify someone who is rage applying. In addition, increasing churn rates are making it difficult to find young workers that haven’t had short tenures at previous positions. The best strategy is to dig deeper into why the applicant is changing jobs. Asking the right questions during the interview is key to look for red flags.

Waiting for the right candidate will likely cost less in the long term than hiring a rage applier who may quickly become disillusioned with your company too. Not only may they quit soon after hiring, but these employees may also spread seeds of negativity in your workplace before they go.  

The Impact of Rage Applying on the Job Market and Hiring Process

Ultimately, rage applying, as well as the other expressions of worker discontent, need to be addressed by employers. Younger workers are looking for employment with companies that share their values, that care about their well-being, and that offer fulfilling work. And they are showing their willingness to leave situations that are not working for them.

The current disconnect between employers and younger workers can be traced to a lack of communication. A lack of communication that is largely generational as well. Older workers are comfortable and familiar with interacting in-person and by telephone. This is how they have based their professional communications throughout their careers. Despite having a LinkedIn profile, they rely on these forms of communication.

For younger workers, the world is much a more text-based place. These individuals feel much less comfortable having difficult conversations in-person or by phone. They rely on email, chat, tweets, and posts. This means they are not likely to reach out to their supervisors if they are having difficulty in their job. Feeling unheard and powerless, they will simply leave or worse, disengage.

The lesson to learn from rage applying is that new ways of communicating need to be established to bridge the gap between corporate leadership and younger workers. The onus is on managers to create an environment that will support the productivity and well-being of their employees, regardless of age. However, Gen Z and millennial workers will also benefit from taking time to decide what they are looking for in their job and overcoming their discomfort to reach out to their managers when they need assistance.

Have you ever rage-applied to jobs? How did it impact your career development? Connect with Virtual Vocations on FacebookTwitterLinkedInInstagram, and YouTube to share your thoughts and tips. We’d love to hear from you!

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