Frustrated With Work, People Are ‘Rage-Applying’

Unhappiness at work led some to act. A new poll reveals that “rage-applying” is having its moment in 2023 — and some say it’s all thanks to TikTok, where the trend first grew an audience and where the terms “quiet quitting” and “quiet firing” have also appeared.

In a new poll of 2,000 professionals, 68% admitted to rage-applying since the start of the year. The poll was recently administered in the U.S. by the recruiting company Robert Walters Group. Workers reacting after a long, hard day at work by applying to several new positions in a relatively quick manner is not all that new. But the Robert Walters’ poll reveals new information that may shed light on further workplace issues at a time when there’s a lot of emphasis on employment and various labor trends.

Just a little more than half (51%) of workers say the leading cause to rage-applying stems from a toxic work environment. This is a basic aspect, Robert Walters U.S. Managing Director Pete Milne adds, that is well within an organization’s control. Nearly 23% of workers noted they were unhappy with their work/life balance, and 17% said they disliked having an unmanageable workload.

A mere 9% said they rage-applied after having a disagreement with management.


@successbysanjna created a video explaining how their rage-applying resulted in a job at a big bank with a $50,000 salary increase.

Considering what is a continually robust labor market, employee exits would no doubt disrupt employers if at all successful. But more than that, a Time article highlights how this trend could yield more unhappy conditions for the workers themselves.

On TikTok, rage-applying hashtags have become another medium for people to discuss their unhappy work life. Many Tiktokers have called it the new quiet quitting, which is where displeased workers essentially quietly resign from applying maximum effort and decide to put in minimal time, effort and enthusiasm. In so many words, one TikToker mentioned that rage-applying is no different than trying to find more appealing circumstances for yourself if the job doesn’t pay you a “livable salary.”

In another TikTok, financial commentator Pattie Lovett-Reid tells CTV Your Morning she thinks employees in any rage-applying scenario owe a conversation to their bosses.

Milne says most employers “cannot afford” to have their employees rage-applying in this labor climate.

“Interestingly, it’s not issues relating to pay or progression that’s creating this reaction, but the work environment itself – something well within the control of the employer,” he says in a news release.


The latest report from the Labor Department showed a healthy job outlook in March. Though the number of jobs added last month equaled less than the previous six-month average, the rate of unemployment fell from 3.6% to 3.5%. Some economists still view the newest information as showing positive signs of an early slowdown. For instance, job openings reportedly have fallen from 10 million for the first time in two years.

Around this time last year, there were two jobs available for every one worker, and more than 11.5 million openings. Workers have had their fair share of breathing room to contemplate their employment futures. Other factors have also affected the work landscape. Recent survey data released from the U.S. Census Bureau showed that during the pandemic people working from home tended to be more diverse and younger.

“By and large, it continues to be a candidate-driven market – with more jobs than people available – so ‘rage-applying’ is really something that most employers cannot afford to happen,” Milne says.


On the other side of the argument is one where rage-applying actually does no good for employees. The Time piece argues it dwindles job opportunities because candidates find themselves stuck in the same conditions they previously despised.

Milne says as a result of this new phenomenon, the Robert Walters Group is increasingly seeing both employees and employers emphasizing “culture matches.” Each party is becoming more vocal about the workplace or the kind of company they are looking for during the hiring process.

“Toxic workplace cultures can be very much invisible, but the knock-on effect to employee happiness is significant – from a staff members mental and physical safety in the workplace, productivity levels, ideas generation and innovation,” Milne says.

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