What Is Rage Applying - And Is It The Best Way To Handle Your Garbage Job?

It's sad to say, but most people have probably felt stuck in a terrible job at some point in their lives. Whether it's simply a dead-end position with nothing to offer you or a dream job ruined by a toxic work environment, there are plenty of reasons to get fed up when your work isn't supporting your happiness or your career goals.

One of the most aggravating work situations is when you feel unappreciated, undervalued, or outright disrespected. Unfortunately, this isn't a rare occurrence. According to a survey by Workhuman, nearly half of all workers feel only somewhat valued by their employers, while more than 10% feel that they aren't valued at all. How this manifests will depend on your unique situation. Maybe you're consistently passed over for a well-deserved promotion, or perhaps you're never thanked for your efforts and overtime. You might even have your ideas ignored or belittled by a terrible manager.

More importantly: If you're trapped in a miserable job like this, what are you supposed to do about it? File a complaint? Storm out in a huff? While either reaction might feel satisfying in the moment, there's another tactic currently making waves online. One part coping mechanism and one part exit strategy, rage applying is an increasingly popular way to vent frustration about a garbage job — and maybe even find a path out of it.

What is rage applying?

Aptly enough, rage applying is basically just getting angry and going on a job-hunting spree. Say you have a particularly awful day at work. Maybe that night you go home, pull up Indeed, and impulsively submit your CV to any and every job you come across. This is peak rage applying.

Of course, this isn't a new behavior. It's just getting a new name and new time in the spotlight, thanks to trending content on social media platforms. "Applying for new roles because you're frustrated with your pay, manager, co-workers ... are age-old reasons why employees have always looked to move on," Amy Zimmerman, the chief people officer at Relay Payments, tells CNBC. Compared to trends like the quiet quitting phenomenon, Zimmerman describes rage applying as "a more active way to respond to one's dissatisfaction."

A December 2022 TikTok video by user @redweez seems to have kicked off the recent conversation on rage applying. In the video, redweez shares their personal experience submitting job applications in a fury and encourages viewers to do the same. "I got mad at work and I rage applied to like 15 jobs," redweez tells the camera. "And then I got a job that gave me a $25,000 raise. And it's a great place to work." As this story illustrates, there are definitely some potential benefits to letting your anger carry you away — as long as you follow a few best practices.

The pros of harnessing rage as a motivator

While rage applying may seem like a risky behavior, there are a few notable upsides to this tactic. For one thing, righteous anger can be great motivation. Even when someone is unhappy in their current position, they may choose to stick with the status quo because it's easier than looking for a new job. This can leave workers trapped in jobs they hate purely out of fear and doubt. But frustration has a way of overpowering hesitation, and giving into the temptation of rage applying can be a positive step toward getting you out of a toxic work environment.

A little indignation now and then can also be a reminder of your own value. Sometimes it's good and even helpful to get angry. For one thing, it can be an indicator of injustice and a sign that you need to be treated with more fairness and respect. In the workplace, this can help you regain perspective on your worth and recognize that there may be bigger and better opportunities awaiting you elsewhere.

What's more, letting yourself submit applications impulsively may encourage you to apply for positions you wouldn't normally attempt. Many people — and, in particular, women — don't submit resumes for jobs because they feel underqualified. But experts like the team at Harvard Business Review recommend applying for an aspirational position even if you don't think you'll get it. This is a major chance to use rage applying to your advantage. If you're the type who struggles with self-doubt, riding a wave of anger might help you grab the bull by the horns and submit a pie-in-the-sky application. Who knows, you might land an unexpected job like redweez did and end up changing your whole life for the better.

When rage applying backfires

Of course, doing anything recklessly is bound to have some hazards. In this case, one potential drawback of rage applying is the chance that your current employer will find out. Some industries are small and tightly knit, so news of your application might work its way through the grapevine back to your office. Or maybe a nosy manager will get suspicious when you update your LinkedIn profile. Either way, it could make things even more uncomfortable at your current job.

Anger may also push you to make rash decisions about any job offers that result from your rage applications. But it's important that you don't let the irritation behind your application process dictate your acceptance, too. "You have to be very thoughtful before you make any decision about getting a new job, especially with the economy we're in now," Jack Kelly, founder and CEO of recruitment firm The Compliance Search Group, tells WorkLife. "You might fall into an offer, but you do it too quickly, and you're just escaping from where you are, but not really thinking about where you're going to." In short, let your rage light a fire under you, but don't get blinded by the smoke. Making a hasty decision to leave your job could not only ding you financially but leave you in a position that's no better than the one you just left.

Other things to try before rage applying

You may be feeling 100% done with your current employment, but it's not always smart or feasible to shop around for another job. In the midst of a rocky economy or upheaval in your specific industry, there may not be a lot of other options available. Or maybe you have some chaos already going on in your personal life, and you just can't pile a job transition on top of that right now. There are many valid reasons to hunker down and endure your current employment for now. However, that doesn't mean you have to remain stagnant and miserable. While you're waiting for the right time to venture elsewhere, there may be some ways to make your present job more bearable.

For instance, instead of jumping ship or quiet quitting, consider whether it would be wiser to try transforming your present work life and making your job better through the mindset of quiet thriving. This approach suggests ideas like cultivating workplace allies, advocating for your own causes and successes, and trying to redefine your current position to be more in line with your strengths and interests. You may be surprised to discover that you have more power over your work situation than you thought.

If bringing positivity and responsibility to your job still doesn't help, the option of rage applying will be waiting for you when you're in a better place to switch careers. When and if that time comes, just keep a few things in mind to make your rage applying as productive as possible.

Tips for rage applying safely and effectively

If you do decide to embrace rage applying, be careful who you mention it to, especially at work. How much do you trust your coworkers to keep your job hunt on the down-low? They say that discretion is the better part of valor, and in this case, it's safer for your current career to keep your rage applying secret until you have a chance to exit your current position.

As for making any job moves, apply indiscriminately, but accept offers cautiously. Take your time researching any new company before you sign on to join their team, and feel free to negotiate for a better salary or perks rather than leaping at the first opportunity that comes your way. Meanwhile, make sure you're doing enough to keep things copacetic in your current job, so you don't run into trouble and feel forced to make any quick moves.

If you do get a great offer and decide to leave your current job, it may be tempting to air grievances before you go. But it's always better to leave on a high note, no matter how dreadful your experience there has been. You never know when burning a professional bridge could backfire, so keep it cordial and polite on your way out the door.

Ultimately, rage applying is a double-edged sword, so wield it carefully. Used recklessly, it could make a bad situation worse. But used strategically, it has the potential to reveal whole new horizons in your career. As TikToker redweez concludes in the very video that launched this trend, "Keep rage applying. It'll happen."