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Rage is Overrated

Rage seems to be all the rage.

“Rage Applying” has now replaced “Rage Quitting.”

Rage quitting was the strategy where you left your job in an atomic rant, without a plan, telling your boss or coworkers or anyone else, just how terrible they are as you storm out the door or click “leave” on your zoom room.

Rage applying is where you blast off random job applications while still continuing in your job.

Same reasons: you are fed up with your current employer.

Different strategy: use an anger-fueled scattershot approach to find a better gig.

With rage quitting, you’ve left without a plan. With rage applying, you’re attempting to leave with a haphazardly found opportunity.

Rage Quitting: Overrated

One estimate says that 80% of rage quitters are regretting their move. There are at least three downsides to rage quitting:

  1. Finding Your Next: You may not find it as easy as you think to find something else. And now your toxic job is replaced by the economic challenge of no job in an inconsistent job market.

  2. Reputational Risk: We live in an age when what is private is shrinking. Your screed against your former employer can easily pop up on the web. Your reputation as that angry, volatile, quitter can be whispered around your industry in a thousand ways.

  3. Personal Aspirations: Ask yourself “Is this really how I want to be remembered?” As Andy Stanely likes to say, “you only get one sentence.” Meaning, after you move on from a position, company, or organization, people will only give you one sentence. “I used to work with so and so, and they were a real ____________.” What do you want that blank to be?

Rage Applying: Overrated

Rage applying is as ineffective as rage quitting. An outspoken advocate for the practice found she only received one interview for 50 applications she sent. Why doesn’t rage applying work?

  1. Captain Obvious: Rage applying is often obvious to prospective employers. They can tell when you are randomly applying for jobs for which you are either not qualified or not interested. They can tell you didn’t customize your resume or finely craft a cover letter. The places you want to work are only interested in people who want to work there.

  2. Time Waster: Even when not in a rage, the high volume, low quality approach to job search is very inefficient. It has a very low probability of working as up to 85% of positions are filled through a personal connection, not a random application.

  3. Flying Blind: When you take a relational/networking approach to job transition and search, you get a lot of first-hand intel on industries, markets, and company politics. This makes you more desirable and gives you intel to know what a culture is like before you join. The point-and-click approach leaves strategic conversations out and leaves you flying blind.

So, What Do We Do with Our Rage?

Advocates for the career rage strategies give you something “productive” to do in the face

of intractable and toxic work environments. But why add another “to do” that often leads to more you will have to do–more damage control, more apologizing, more fruitless work?

Ancient counsel says we should regulate how much of our inner world we reveal:

A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise person quietly holds it back. (Proverbs 29:11)

Jesus taught that to be angry is to be in a spiritually perilous situation:

“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ 22But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brotherc will be liable to judgment; whoever insultsd his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire (Matthew 5:21-22)

Note, he doesn’t say never be angry (neither does the proverb). Jesus goes on to instruct that we should resolve matters, and quickly. Rage is driven by unresolved anger. Anger is a protest against something in our world we perceive to be wrong. Anger is not wrong per se. Unresolved anger builds into rage, and rage creates all sorts of collateral damage.

At VOCA, we are frequently called upon to help our coaching clients clean up messes after a rage incident. Every now and then a client calls us before they pull the trigger. I can think of one instance where a Chief of Staff sensed things were going south. She wanted to go nuclear and quit. In our coaching session, we were able to slow the trajectory down. She was able to get her head around questions like, 1) what was causing this anger, 2) what is her financial situation and the impact of a quick exit, 3) who are other people she should talk to about real opportunities in her space, and 4) is there a stakeholder map to consider who in her present orbit should hear of her exit directly from her?

She slowed way down and was prepared to engage in a deliberate, background search for a better situation. Her employer escalated his behaviors and she hit the eject button. She did so with grace and in a direct but respectful manner. She burned no bridges on the way out and was much more prepared for all the dimensions of her transition. She did not give in to rage but instead followed the path of wisdom.

Instead of rage, try introspection. What is the source of your chronic anger? What is truly unjust in your situation and what is just unpleasant? How can you frame a response that helps others and not just yourself? What kind of actions can you take that move you toward the exit with respect and grace?


Don't let "rage" put you on a bad career path. Use VOCA's coaching solutions to help you see your path forward with clarity. It all starts with a free consultation.

Listen to our podcast episode on this topic, "Rage is Overrated":

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