Rage applying is the latest buzzy career trend – but should you do it?

Written by Katie Rosseinsky

Move over quiet quitting – rage applying is the latest work trend that’s all about channelling anger towards your job into sending out CVs for new roles. But is it really the best way to approach a career change? We’ve asked the experts. 

“This is your sign to keep rage applying for jobs,” a TikTok user posting under the handle @Redweez explains in a video shared in December. “Because 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 (£20,500) raise and it’s a great place to work. So keep rage applying. It’ll happen.”

If you thought that TikTok-fuelled career terminology would be left behind in 2022 (think quiet quitting, acting your wage, career cushioning… we could go on), prepare to reconsider. @Redweez’s video has had more than 2 million views and has been shared around 20,300 times.

Search for the term ‘rage applying’ on the app and it’ll bring up plenty more clips, with users debating the merits and downsides of this tactic (and discussing the awkward scenario when you’re contacted by the recruiter and you can’t remember which job they’re referring to, as you applied to so many roles in anger).

As far as job-related buzzwords go, this one is pretty self-explanatory. If you’ve ever fired off a few CVs and cover letters after a particularly stressful day at work, in the wake of an irritating interaction with your boss or following another meeting where you got overlooked in favour of another colleague, then you’ve probably rage applied without even knowing it. 

As Jill Cotton, career trends expert at Glassdoor, points out, rage applying isn’t new, but the phrase certainly captures what it feels like to send off a flurry of frustration-fuelled applications without putting too much thought into whether the role is your dream job or not.

“Workers often need a tipping point that convinces them to move on,” she adds. “But knowing that you want to quit your job requires self-reflection, and our busy lives often don’t give us the space or time needed to do this. Applying for a new role in a fit of rage against your current employer may feel like it has come out of nowhere. But rage applying is normally the endpoint in a build-up of negativity about your job.”

In other words, it’s another symptom of deep-rooted career malaise, which often creeps up on you: you might notice a subtle lack of growth in your role, Cotton says. It could be a lack of motivation or mismatch in the work-life balance you want or just diminishing interest in your work, until “boom, something happens at work that tips you over the edge”. There’s no one major culprit, but we’d be willing to make an educated guess that passive-aggressive emails are a popular catalyst for rage applying.

The best case scenario is that, like the term’s originator, you end up being offered a job with a great pay rise and a work culture that better suits you. But that’s in no way a guaranteed outcome – so is this actually the most productive way to channel those feelings of negativity at work? And when emotions are bubbling over, could ‘rage applying’ just lead you to make a decision that you regret?

As careers coach Ayesha Murray notes, making any decision in haste with heightened emotions isn’t a recipe for success, and leaving a role in anger can leave a bad impression. “Consider how an impulse departure might be perceived by a future employer,” she adds.“Does it give the impression that they’re hiring someone measured and pragmatic?” Plus, if you walk out in a fit of anger, you’ll be sure to burn bridges with those around you, Cotton explains. “And this is tricky if you want to continue working in the same sector.”

Instead, it’s worth taking a breather – that might mean getting out of the office with your phone notifications turned off or calling a friend at lunchtime to let all your emotions out and assess the situation. “Changing jobs takes careful consideration,” Murray says. “From understanding why you want to leave your current employer to reviewing what you truly want from a new role, there needs to be a process.”

First, think about what’s making you angry. Is it the role itself or the way you’re currently being treated? Might there be a way of changing that? “Do you like your job and want to remain in your organisation but on better terms?” asks career coach and owner of wellness brand SophiaWorld, Sophia Husbands. If so, you might be better off channelling your emotion to make a case for this change. “You can present an argument to your line manager, highlighting your achievements and the value you bring,” she suggests. 

But if it’s definitely a change you’re after, Cotton advises swapping rage applying for rage job searching. Sending out a CV without really thinking hard about what the job advert entails doesn’t always get you far, she notes, and in some cases, it might backfire in the long run, especially if you’re genuinely keen on the company in question. “Rage applying might provide instant gratification, but if the company you have applied to is somewhere you really want to work, a duff application will quickly put you in the hiring manager’s ‘no pile’ and may damage your chances of working there in the future,” she warns.

Murray recommends redirecting your adrenaline into creating a thought-through plan of action, which takes into account what’s driving the need to leave, which part of your role you really enjoy and what you want from your career and which roles might fulfil that in the future. The answers you come up with will help give your job search direction, in contrast to the often scattergun approach you might take when rage applying. “Think of yourself as a personal brand and approach possible companies whose culture and brand may align with you,” Husbands adds.

What’s most important, Murray says, is that you’re able to make an informed decision about your next step with a calm head. “After all, no one wants to be steeped in regret a few months down the line.” 

Images: Getty

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