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When work gets too frustrating, some employees turn to "rage applying"

Similar to "quiet quitting," a phenomenon in which disenchanted employees choose to do the bare minimum at their job, a new trend is taking off among Gen Z: rage applying.

The trend is popping up on TikTok, where many young employees are venting their fears and frustrations with work. In truth, "rage applying," or applying to as many jobs as possible out of frustration or anger, may be less of a new trend than a proactive strategy that distressed workers have employed for years. However, the ease with which job applications can be fired off today, especially when assisted by artificial intelligence, allows Gen Z applicants (born between 1997 and 2013) to take this age-old recourse to new heights.

But when does the seemingly mundane task of sending job applications become rageful? Some rage-quitting videos on TikTok reveal instances where an employee feels they're not fairly compensated or are upset about not being promoted within their organization. Other videos on the platform come from overworked employees, stressed to the breaking point by their workload.

A distinguishing characteristic of Gen Z in the workplace is their "low tolerance for crap," said Nathan Kennedy, an independent financial content creator. "And you can argue that's for good reason. Our dignity shouldn't be at stake."

Raging against the process

Recent college grads are no stranger to rage-fueled job searching, with some applying to hundreds of jobs at a time in hopes of landing just one or two interviews. Kalli Agudo, who graduated this year from American University in Washington, D.C., with a degree in finance, described her own frustrations searching for a job.

"During the spring semester of my senior year I probably rage-applied to 200 jobs. But I realized I needed to change my strategy," she told CBS MoneyWatch.

Agudo said she had been applying to entry-level jobs online for months, only to face silence from hiring managers. When she finally reached the interview stage at one company, though, the experience became even more frustrating. 

"I was considered for an investor relations firm that had eight rounds of interviews," Agudo said. "I made it to the very last round only for them to say I didn't have enough knowledge of the space. I didn't think that was fair as it was an entry-level position, so clearly I would have limited knowledge."

Amid such struggles, younger Americans can at least take comfort in one thing — labor conditions for young job seekers are the healthiest they've been in decades. The unemployment rate for people ages 16-24 hit a 70-year low in March, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, while it remains roughly twice as high as for older workers. 

More than a numbers game

To be sure, finding a job fresh out of school can be a slog even for the most driven high achievers.

"Starting May, I devoted three to five hours to job applications every day," Agudo said. "But once I didn't see results, I changed my process and directly reached out to recruiters."

A slowing white-collar job market and a surge in layoffs in fields like tech and finance add up to a challenging market right now for young professionals, according to Madelyn Machado, the founder of Career Finesse, a career counseling service.

"This year, the trend has been layoffs, so employers are not putting the power in the candidate's hand," Machado told CBS MoneyWatch. "Applying and getting your numbers up is important. I've noticed it takes 100 applications for an interview and 150 for an offer right now."

While there's value in casting a wide net in looking for work, Kennedy said he advises job hunters to take a more measured and strategic approach.

"Don't wait to be all pissed off"

Kennedy suggests doing periodic check-ins with yourself and reflecting on your work experience, including taking note of challenges or conflicts that emerge during the job search. 

"You should always keep your eye on the market," he said. "Don't wait to be all pissed off to look for something better. Come from a place of abundance."

Both Kennedy and Machado also have another piece of advice for fed up employees gearing up their job search: Before giving notice, be sure the new job and employer are really an improvement.

"I work with a lot of people who hate their job," Machado recounted. "They tell me they'll literally just do any other job and then end up in another job they hate."

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