Where quiet quitting — or doing the least — once had a foothold in the workplace, a new type of career move is having its moment. In 2022, a Pew Research Center survey found that low pay, a lack of opportunities for growth, and feeling disrespected in the workplace were the top reasons that 57 to 63 percent of U.S. employees quit their jobs. As an act of revenge and sometimes sheer desperation, workers are now rage applying.
“For as long as people have had corporate jobs, when they get mad at their boss, they go apply to jobs,” says Kristen Zavo, a career coach and author of Job Joy. The difference today is that with the ability to quickly apply to a new gig with a few clicks on sites like Indeed, LinkedIn, and ZipRecruiter, throwing your hat in the ring has never been easier.
The concept, which has become a widespread topic across social media platforms like TikTok in recent months, refers to when frustrated employees visit a number of job boards and mass apply in the double digits to jobs to see what opportunities pour in.
Some claim that just a few days later you could have an offer that’s $25,000 more than what you make now. But the convenience — as well as the approach — has raised questions about the bold approach. Now, career coaches are entering the conversation. And they have several concerns.
“People are tired of being taken advantage of by organizations,” says Tega Edwin, a career counselor and coach at Her Career Doctor. “Whether [companies] are taking advantage of their time or their money, people are tired of feeling underground and unappreciated at work.” If you’re feeling the frustration, you’re not alone: Ninety-six percent of people plan to switch jobs in 2023, according to a report by Monster. “People are still feeling the effect of 2020,” Edwin adds, “meaning people are still wanting flexibility, still wanting value, money, [and] balance between work and life.”
Edwin notes that frustration can come from allowing yourself to be taken advantage of for too long. “We don’t notice early enough that we’re not being valued,” she says. “By the time we do notice, we realize, ‘Wait, I was putting up with a lot of c***. I was letting them violate my values. I didn’t have strong boundaries.’”
While applying to anything and everything within your purview may seem like an explosive idea with fantastic odds, it can actually be harmful and destructive, according to Edwin. “If we’re doing anything from a place of rage,” she explains, “that already tells you we’re not making logical, smart decisions and we’re not being intentional and strategic.”
A recent 2023 Paychex survey of 800 employees found that 80 percent who quit their job during what’s been dubbed the Great Resignation regretted their decision, saying the better pay and benefits weren’t enough to keep them happy. Mental health, work-life balance, and workplace relationships suffered as a result.
Despite its allure, rage applying can embed false hope in participants. “My concern is not only that people will land in a worse job,” says Zavo, “but that they might have a false sense of confidence and quit their job believing they could get another one in a couple days. It’s going to be a huge wake-up call when that doesn’t happen.” The career coach says it can take three to six months to land a strong job offer after applying, interviewing, and negotiating.
Rage applying can also be damaging to mental health and confidence. “The more you rage apply,” Edwin suggests, “the more rejections you will get from organizations. The more rejections you get, the more discouraged you feel about your skill set and value add.”
“If you go into a job search upset and angry,” Zavo says, “even if you paste a smile on your face and say, ‘I’m just looking for new opportunities,’ the energy is going to be felt that you are trying to escape.” You don’t need to push aside the hurt, disappointment, betrayal, or anger you feel, but you can release your rage in a safe space and then channel those feelings productively. Zavo encourages job seekers to think of their pending job search as “conscious” applying or “intentional” applying — sans the red-hot rage. “That is where,” she says, “we really take our power back.”
If you’re unhappy at work, applying to jobs may indeed be the right next move for you. Rather than taking immediate action, it can be beneficial to you and your future to take the time to think about what you truly want next. “When you come from a place of reaction and not proactivity,” Zavo notes, “you’re not going to go after the jobs that are actually going to make you happy, and you may end up in the same, similar, or worse situation.”
Being selective in your search yields a higher probability of landing a job that actually makes you feel good. “You deserve a job where you are valued, well-compensated, and celebrated for being there,” Zavo says. “We all deserve this. I don’t want anyone to give up until they have that because once you experience it, you wonder how you’ve lived like this for so long. It’s absolutely possible for all of us. We just need a little intention, strategy, and some personal branding.” Here are three ways to be more conscious in a job search:
When you’re ready to switch jobs, it’s important to first reflect on and understand why you’re dissatisfied. “Oftentimes, we’ll just say, ‘I’m unhappy. I’m going somewhere else.’ Then, we go somewhere else, and three months later we’re unhappy again,” Edwin says. Is the problem your manager, the environment, salary, commute, your work tasks, or a combination of those aspects? “Then, you can be intentional about avoiding those things,” Edwin says, “or evaluating those things in the next organization.”
It also helps to evaluate how your behavior has led you here, as challenging as that may be, to avoid re-creating the same situation in your next job. “Was it the momentum of life? Was it trying to please others? Was it just climbing the corporate ladder without thinking about what you want or what success is to you?” Zavo says. “If we don’t learn the lesson, it’s going to come back to us in another person and another job.”
Finally, ask yourself: Who are you now? “We’ve all changed so much since the pandemic,” Zavo says. “What’s important to you now? What are your priorities? What about your values? What do you want from your career and your life?” From there, write a list of your non-negotiable values or boundaries you will not bend on during your new intentional job search.
Tailor your search
Once you’ve found a role and a company that align with your values, it’s time to increase your chances of landing the position by marketing yourself as the best candidate for the job through application materials crafted uniquely for the position. “You’re in sales automatically because you’re selling your skill sets and your value,” Edwin says. “You’re marketing your skills to an organization and saying, ‘Hey, I’m the solution to a problem that you have.’”
To be effective in your job search, audit the skills you factually have and want to use in this new role. Tweak your LinkedIn profile, résumé, and cover letter to reflect your abilities and what your target company needs. “Not only do you want to be really clear and intentional about the jobs you’re going after,” Zavo says, “but if you want to stand out in this over-flooded market, you have to be sure that you are positioning yourself as the best fit for that role — even if you don’t have the traditional experience.”
Network with connections
According to a study of more than 20 million LinkedIn users, most job seekers find high-paying roles through their social connections rather than direct job applications or advertisements. In addition to applying online, it’s crucial to connect with people digitally and IRL. “Savvy job seekers don’t just rely on the job application process,” Zavo says. “They’re also networking with influencers and decision makers — people who can put their résumé to the top of the pile.”
Edwin advises job hunters to connect with people in their target organizations, whether it’s recruiters, hiring managers, or colleagues who work at the company. “People who are internally referred for a role are 10 times more likely to get the job than external applicants,” she says. Articulate your skills in a way that’s transferrable, and you could be one step closer to your next dream job. Also, don’t be afraid to talk with current employees to see if their experiences match with what you’re seeking out.
“Conversations drive conversions in your job search, whether it’s a conversion to an interview, someone saying, ‘Send me your résumé,’ or getting a job offer,” Edwin says. “Those conversations make you more than just another name on a piece of paper.” It doesn’t have to be someone you’ve known for 10 years. You might be surprised at how often acquaintances help people land their dream job.
Mia Brabham is a staff writer at Shondaland. Follow her on Twitter at @hotmessmia.
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