Rage Applying – Another New Trend in Workplace Dissatisfaction?

There is a common childhood dilemma that we have all seemingly faced. One of those common threads, whether caused by an underlying aspect of our culture, normality in our species, or a burning coincidence. Those events that happened to all of us, though we cannot explain why. In this case, we grew angry as a child, whether at our parents or siblings, and decided we were going to run away. Though missing a wide array of survival tactics and skills, we packed our bags full of toys, snacks, and minimal clothes and walked out the front door. Around three blocks later, we realized that we had no idea how to survive in a world that we didn’t understand. Therefore, we all went back home (or our parents came and go us). The fit was over without a climactic ending. In a way, this is rage applying.

Ultimately, the pandemic was more than just a resetting point for culture. It was a renaissance for the working world, one that is still being felt to the current day. We will see the impact of the pandemic on employers and employees for years (and years) to come. We saw the Great Resignation where employees found a new sense of purpose and gained the power to make demands. Then, saw quiet quitting where employees began giving up at work but remaining there to survive the economy. Finally, we saw frugality where people began to budget their lives so they could work less.

Now, we are seeing rage applying, the new trend that seems to be grasping a generation of workers in the midst of 2023.

The name itself seems concerning, but is rage applying truly an issue of fear for employers and companies? Let’s discuss.

What Is Rage Applying?

At its core, rage applying is not an unusual concept. Simply put, rage applying is the act of applying for new and better-paying jobs when your current job upsets you. It’s when you begin sending out new applications due to the emotional state that your current job has put you in, whether warranted or not.

For example, if your boss managed to upset you or make you feel as if you do not want to work for your company anymore, your initial reaction might be to start applying for new jobs. In that state of mind, you are ready to move on to greener pastures by any means necessary. Usually, this situation ends after a deep breath and a reevaluation of the situation. You may find your frantic job searching was due to that specific emotional state. You may find you really do need a change of scenery.

In that moment of anger, finding a new job and leaving your current one is all that matters. We’ve all experienced it, like an adult version of the toy-packing and life-changing ‘running away’ in our collective childhoods. In that state of rage, the only solution seems to be running away.

In concept, rage applying makes complete sense. We are beginning to look at the way we interact and feel about working relationships. We are reevaluating how important our daily happiness is to us, as a species.

According to The Bureau of Labor Statistics, 47.8 million U.S. workers quit their jobs in 2021. Furthermore, PwC completed a survey of more than 52,000 workers in 44 countries in 2022. In this survey, PwC found that 1 in 5 workers say they will change jobs in the next year. 69% said they would change employers for better job fulfillment.

The idea of moving on to better jobs is already established within us. Once an emotional chord is struck at the current job, finding a better situation becomes more of a priority. Go figure.

Where Did It Come From?

While the idea of rage applying is not new, it’s important to note how the trend got its exaggerated title.

Our first example of the title rage applying started on TikTok. Redweez said in a video in early December, “This is your sign to keep rage-applying to jobs. “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.” 

From there, both social media and news outlets ran with the title. A hyperbole of the situation, rage applying became the coined term for searching for a new gig when yours upsets you.

As we noted, this concept is far from new. Though it now has a catchy title, many people lurch to find a new job when their current one upsets them. In a capitalist society where work is required to survive, we know that we cannot leave our current job without another lined up (unless situations are dire). Therefore, when we get upset and ready to move on, we know the next required step is finding a new job.

It’s kinda similar to quitting in dramatic fashion after a disagreement with your supervisor. The difference is the fear of living in the modern world without a paying job secured. It’s quitting without officially quitting.

Is It Just Quiet Quitting?

Another recent trend that formulated throughout TikTok, quiet quitting was taking the working world by storm a few months before rage applying.

Our definition of Quiet Quitting from our accompanying article:

Fundamentally, quiet quitting starts with being forced to work. As a species, we have established work as a necessity for societal amalgamation and usefulness. Obviously, the reason for working can differ depending on the economic basis of governments, but it all boils back down to the point of usefulness. You work because you have to. You have to make money, survive, provide for your society and provide for yourself.

When a concept is forced upon someone, effort depends entirely upon human emotion toward said concept. If a worker hates their job but has to work to survive, expect the bare minimum. Expect the amount of effort necessary to continue working, not to continue thriving in the work environment. If a promotion is out of reach or unwanted, the worker does not need to provide more effort than necessary to maintain the current job.

So, is rage applying just quiet quitting? Pretty much.

Rage applying is more of an immediate action, while quiet quitting is giving up on your job entirely. Rage applying could easily be a part of quiet quitting, but it’s not a one-for-one exact. It happens in the moment of being upset. Quiet quitting is something you have decided to do, letting the lack of effort play out for the unforeseeable future. You could very well be rage-applying while you are completing the act of quiet quitting.

Regardless of the similarities, the point lies within the cause. People are unhappy at their current jobs but know they cannot survive unemployed. Instead of quitting and finding another job, they act in secrecy, maintaining their current income while searching elsewhere.

Is It Just the TikTok Generation?

With the trend starting and thriving on TikTok, it’s important to note the statistics surrounding the application. If only a certain age range uses the app, then it’s easy to connect the trend to a certain generation of workers.

As of 2023, the TikTok user age statistics are as follows:

  • Ages 0-19 – 32.5%
  • 20-29 – 29.5%
  • 30-39 – 16.4%
  • 40-49 – 13.9%
  • 50+ – 7.1%

Therefore, the majority of those within working ages on TikTok is Generation Z. While there are a fair amount of Millenials on the app, the most common is younger.

Analyzation and hypothesizing here is simple: if the topic is trending amongst Gen Z, then Gen Z is likely to act accordingly. The concept is being spread amongst the demographic. Therefore, it’s fair to theorize that Gen Z workers are the most likely to rage apply.

Though, we must note that the initial TikTok video regarding rage applying (linked above), featured #Millennial. Obviously, the user was of the Millennial age range. So, it seems as if the trend is amongst both generations (which share similar usage on social media platforms).

Millennials make up around 35% of the working world and Gen Z makes up 13% (which will continue to climb yearly). Henceforth, almost 50% of the working world is aware of rage applying (and probably does it).

The Market Is Set For It

The current labor market is in a weird state. As an employment company and staffing agency, we have noticed a wide variety of trends in hiring. A wide variety.

In 2022, over 964 tech companies laid off over 149,876 workers globally. Though the numbers may seem skewed, surrounding an industry with millions of workers and thousands of companies, the significance is as crucial as you could imagine. So critical, in fact, that WRAL Tech Wire created an entire list for ‘Layoff Watch’ last year.

On the other hand, there were over 223,000 new jobs on the market in December 2022.

ADP’s latest survey of private payrolls found that large employers cut 151,000 jobs in December, while firms with fewer than 500 employees added nearly 400,000 new jobs that month.

Those less significant companies can pick up the layoffs of the juggernauts. Those that have been cut from their jobs are quickly finding replacement careers, even if the payment is lower. In the current economy, there isn’t much of an option. Therefore, those that are rage applying are finding thousands of available jobs at smaller companies during their search.

For example, an essay by Jordan Hart for Business Insider spoke of their experience with rage applying. Hart noted, “Now, I’m working for a smaller music library, but I’m making more money than I did in my last job, and I have a more senior role.”

Hart got a new job at a smaller company. Smaller companies are currently looking for great workers and are willing to compensate, while bigger companies are having issues keeping their staff on hand, compensating, and keeping everyone employed.

“Rage doesn’t have to mean something negative — it helped me realize exactly what I deserve from an employer, and helped me be unafraid to ask for it.”

— Jordan Hart for Business Insider

How Will This Affect Employers?

Now comes the fair question: how will this affect my business or employment tactics?

Ultimately, it shouldn’t really change anything.

The act of workers being upset and looking for better jobs is not the end of the world. Despite such a drastic title, it’s a common occurrence that isn’t always fueled by rage. Even Hart noted that they were not ‘seeing red’ during their search for new jobs. It happens, and if an employee feels as if they should move on, there’s nothing you can do to stop them.

The concept involves understanding why your employees are upset.
To help keep great employees and lower rage applying, you must tackle the first word.
Why was the employee enraged?

Sometimes there’s nothing you can do. Sometimes personalities just do not fit, causing the worker to become upset or feel as if they need to work elsewhere. Other times, your company is the main cause for the rage applying.

How to Prevent or Fix It?

Though you cannot always force an employee to be happy, stopping rage applying starts with being a good employer. As stated, the issue starts with why the employee was enraged. Why was the employee feeling as if they needed to leave your company?

We have countless articles on how to build a great work culture and keep your employees happy, but we will note a few crucial things here.

1. Start With Listening

You may believe that your way of doing things is set in stone. You may believe that you’ve scrubbed the walls of any previous toxicity and negativity through your efforts as an employer. Unfortunately, you do not see it all. As a leader or owner, you may not be on the floor as much as you want. You may have missed things going on or a shift in the environment.

If your employee is upset or enraged, it’s most likely that there was a scuffle or argument with management. Was management willing to actually listen to the issue at hand? Are they willing to adapt and empathize with the workers?

Requiring employees to bend and break by your rules is a quick way to run them out or reduce their enthusiasm (and make them angry).

2. Belonging and Attribution Is Necessary

Your company’s culture should stem from the idea that every single worker matters.

The easiest way to prevent an employee from beginning the rage-applying process is to remind them how important they are in their position. Your company would not continue to run properly without them, after all. People want to feel like they matter. They want to feel heard and feel as if the company needs them to continue.

The quickest way to make an employee angry is to make them feel replaceable or lower than another worker. Doing so makes them reevaluate their value at the company. If you are treating them as if they have no value, then leaving is a reasonable solution for the employee. It’s fair.

If an employee understands the importance of their job and is treated as such, they are more likely to work hard at it. Employees want to work harder for companies that care about them. They want to work things out if problems arise. Feeling like a family and feeling appreciated only improves employee morale.

From verbally complimenting the employee’s efforts to listening to their ideas, every small step towards employee appreciation and respect builds for a better future.

Need more info on building an effective company culture?

Check out: Corporate Culture is Crucial – How to Establish an Ideal Work Environment

3. Pay Correct Salaries

It’s no coincidence that the majority of angry applying stories follow with something like “After angry applying, I found a higher paying job.”

Employees want to be paid what they’re worth. They deserve to be paid what they are worth. The current economy is ruthless, causing employees to scramble for new ways to survive and make a living (including a plethora of side gigs and searches for raises).

If you want to keep your employees, pay them what they are worth. And if you cannot afford the worth of the employee, then you may need to downsize or find a less-experienced worker for the position. For example, if your company isn’t big enough to afford the average wage of a senior graphic designer, maybe your company doesn’t need a senior. Find a less-experienced worker willing to take the lower wage.

Not paying the employee what they deserve may not outright cause angry applying, but it will be a deciding factor when the decision to apply for other jobs comes about.

4. Reward Good Effort

It may seem obvious, but rewarding your employees for their hard work is the best way to keep them around and engaged. We can hammer home the concept of thanking and recognizing your employees’ efforts all day, but it needs to be put into practice.

While this may seem like diminishing a worker to the quality of training an animal with treats, it’s anything but. You are not treating the employee as a trainable and mindless worker by providing rewards, you are showing them that you care about them as hardworking people.

Now, don’t begin to panic. If you are a small business, rewarding your employees with bonus pay may be nearly impossible. That’s okay. Luckily, there are other ways to reward your employees. Some companies set up a formal list of rewards revolving around certain milestones. Some companies provide team-building and rewarding experiences when a goal is met (a dinner, celebration, or day out).

If it’s impossible to provide your team with an extravagant reward, that’s okay. Hopefully, that level of success comes in due time. But, like thanking and complimenting, little things can go a long way. For example, if your employee is busting their tail all week, let them take off early on a Friday. Thank them for their hard work and tell them to go home. They’ll remember this.

As we noted, there have been a plethora of new ideas and trends in the workplace throughout the entirety of the pandemic. As we touched on briefly, we believe the springboard of new movements was started from the renaissance-like nature of the worldwide pandemic.

Sandwiched between pandemic-forced isolation and at-home working policies, people had more time for introspection. After a year-long bout of battling against boredom and seclusion, a mass thought process swept the nation like a refreshing broom. According to The Bureau of Labor Statistics, 47.8 million U.S. workers quit their jobs in 2021.

Ultimately, people decided that they were no longer happy with just getting by.

Workers realized with rightful thought that they are worth more than paid. Why work a job you don’t enjoy when life is so short and crucial? Why waste precious life doing something you don’t like just to get by? Just common questions surrounded by the existential dread of seeing millions of people become deathly ill.

In a way, this overall fear and questioning created a great awakening in the minds of the common employee. Workers have taken over the power, holding higher and more reasonable expectations for future employers. Regardless of your opinion on the matter, it’s impossible to overlook the numbers. A sizable shift in the job market did happen, and we are currently living through the aftershocks caused by it.

Simply put, we just like to put cute names to things now. It’s more brandable and can be searched easier on social media platforms’ trending pages. The concept of creating a hashtag is the quickest way to get out mass information. Without #RageApplying, the information wouldn’t spread as efficiently.

It’s not as if these are the first working trends asking for better employee lives.
There have been worker strikes throughout the entirety of our country’s history.

Is It Normal, Though?

Though we can attempt to pinpoint and blame the influx for workplace trends as an effect of the 2020 pandemic, we can’t fully place the entire causality on the situation. Just a quick Google search will provide thousands of results for workplace trends prior to COVID-19.

Workplace wellness, hybrid jobs, and the creation of inclusive culture were all working trends in 2019 (right before the pandemic). And, in a way, they are the natural evolution stepping toward the workplace trends we are discussing today (great resignation, frugality, and rage applying). Though it seems as if the newer trends are the only ones with cute names, the idea of creating a more employee-first working world has been in play for a long time.

If all of the new trends aren’t from the pandemic, then are they from the generation itself? Possibly. Generation Z may be the main cause.

Millennials grew up with Boomer parents, optimistic about the future of the world and the economic stabilization of the past. Gen Z grew up during a significant economic recession and has seen inflation crush the housing market, college degrees become nothing more than paper, and the need for environmental mindfulness become a necessity.

Gen Zers find themselves in a strange gray area. They are pessimistic due to the world we created for them, but they are optimistic that social change is going to continue, creating an inclusive and congealed world. They are hesitant about sharing information online but prefer to work with technology and avoid the cell of office space.

All in all, they want a better world for both themselves and the generations around them. This greatly applies to their relationship with employers and jobs as a whole.


At the end of the day, Rage Applying isn’t a new or unforeseen concept. When an employee feels like they don’t matter or are extremely upset with their circumstances, they are likely to start thinking about other jobs. Unfortunately (or fortunately for employers), the concept of outright quitting when upset is no longer affordable. Employees know they must continue to work to survive, even if they are unhappy. They can’t quit a job without another lined up. The old cliche our parents have told us for generations.

Ultimately, rage applying found its name through the modern need for hashtags and sellable titles. It’s not a new trend.

What should be found in all this, though, is the same lesson stemming from all of the new workplace trends: employees know their worth and deserve to be treated up to that standard.

While there are always some exceptional cases, the point stands: if your employees are greatly resigning, quiet quitting, or rage applying, your workplace is most likely the main culprit. There is something wrong with the way your company handles the workplace, culture, or salaries. There is some missing link between the concept of the company and the ideals of the workers.

Though arguments are always a two-way street, it’s important to look around your office and your mirror. Are you doing everything you can to be a fair, inclusive, and great-cultured workplace?

“This whole level of wholeness is a place where I am able to show up as a full human being with all of my gifts to the table to be a part of this organization. That leads to a great feeling of inclusiveness because what it allows me then to do is to bring this real, authentic self to the table and to really love the work that I do.”

Kimo Kippen, Founder of Aloha Learning Advisors