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Business News/ Special Report / You’re ‘Rage Applying’ for Jobs and Recruiters Are On to You
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You’re ‘Rage Applying’ for Jobs and Recruiters Are On to You

wsj

Rapid-fire résumé submissions usually don’t work—even when they do, the next job might be as bad as the last

The idea behind “rage applying” is to channel anger at your current role into a burst of résumé submissions, then gloat when companies line up with attractive offers. Premium
The idea behind “rage applying” is to channel anger at your current role into a burst of résumé submissions, then gloat when companies line up with attractive offers.

It was a lousy day at work. You feel underpaid and overloaded. Seething, you apply for a dozen other positions in less than an hour and relish the conviction that you stuck it to the man.

In reality, you might just be stuck.

The idea behind “rage applying" is to channel anger at your current role into a burst of résumé submissions, then gloat when companies line up with attractive offers. The term took off on social media, with people claiming it got them better jobs.

Its effectiveness remains dubious. Plus, dumping tons of résumés can clog candidate pools that already resemble AI-monitored black holes.

Some who have managed to snag new jobs by spraying applications into the ether warn that haste can obscure whether an opportunity is truly a good fit. And many businesses that were willing to hire almost anyone with a pulse last year are cutting head counts back to normal levels.

Recruiters say they are catching on to rage appliers, and quickly toss them onto “no" piles. Red flags include sloppy mistakes (one staffing pro told me about an applicant who uploaded a receipt instead of a résumé) and generic or missing cover letters. At the interview stage, if a job seeker gets that far, there is a common giveaway, says Linda Ferrante, vice president of RFT Search Group in Michigan.

“The easiest way to tell if someone is rage applying is if they just complain about their current job and ask no questions about the opening or the company they’re interviewing for," she says.

Ferrante lets these doomed candidates vent for a while before delivering a punchline she has developed for such situations: “I say, ‘Gosh, that awful job sounds just like this one I’m trying to fill.’ "

Old habit, new tools

Frustration with one position is a longstanding reason to seek another, but tools like LinkedIn’s “easy apply" and Indeed’s “quick apply" enable application sprees with a few clicks. Fed-up workers had nothing of the sort when they sang “Take This Job And Shove It" with Johnny Paycheck in 1977.

Contrary to popular myth, a typical job tenure is about the same now as it was then—roughly four years, according to federal data. The steady numbers belie shifting workplace dynamics, however. In the late 1970s, Bureau of Labor Statistics economist Edward S. Sekscenski explained that the median stint was short because of high unemployment, early retirements and an influx of women into the labor force. Today, unemployment is near historic lows, people are extending their careers, and women represent almost half of workers.

Something different is driving turnover: People are quitting in record numbers and have been for a couple of years. They feel professionally empowered in a favorable labor market, and respond to imperfect jobs by looking for new ones.

“People are seeking control," says Nicholette Leanza, a therapist in Ohio who specializes in workplace issues. “They’re mad, they feel like their job isn’t fair, and they need to do something about it."

Leanza says many of her clients are prone to rapid-fire job applications, usually without success. When she probes for their reasons, she sometimes concludes that their work environments are harmful. Just as often, she determines that her clients ought to focus on managing their responses to inevitable conflicts and challenges.

Getting there takes time. The quick-click catharsis of submitting résumé after résumé is tempting for people who want to blow off steam.

Be careful what you wish for

Anna Taylor recalls a night of fury a few years ago when she blasted out a stream of applications after being denied a bonus she thought she had earned.

“I must have sent at least 20," she says. “I was just, like, click, click, let’s see what happens."

She got a call the next day and soon accepted an offer from a tech startup. Yet she cautions that her experience doesn’t prove the merits of rage applying, the latest would-be heir to quiet quitting on the throne of business buzzwords.

She had been contemplating a job change for a while and had a polished résumé and cover letter ready to go—a key difference from those who slap together application materials while fuming. She also took a pay cut. Moving on was worth it, says Taylor, who has since doubled her previous earnings and works in Arizona for a cybersecurity firm. But people shouldn’t imagine that it is easy to dash off a bunch of applications and collect a raise, she adds.

Vanessa Correa has gone through several spells of frenetic job hunting in the past decade with mixed results. She says a position she initially saw as an escape hatch turned out to be worse than the one she fled.

Her self-imposed rule is to stay in a role for at least a year, and sometimes she browsed listings when she wasn’t even ready to make a move. After a maddening day at work, it felt good to fantasize about exiting.

In one intense stretch, Correa sent out 200 applications. She got 200 rejections. If a cover letter was optional, she almost always skipped it. Looking back, she figures hiring managers likely detected that she was more annoyed by her existing job than interested in any particular new one.

“If that assessment was made, it was correct," she says.

Correa overhauled her approach this year to land her current position in Washington, D.C., a marketing strategy role at JPMorgan Chase. The job she got was one of two she applied for.

She believes the effort and enthusiasm she put into a select number of applications made the difference.

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