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You can’t just quit in today’s workplace

It seems as though you cannot just quit a job anymore. Or even be simply discontent with one. As soon as “quiet quitting,” a new term for the very old practice of doing the bare minimum to keep your job took hold, an accompanying crop of new terms related to work dissatisfaction followed. Like “quiet quitting,” most of them are nothing more than new terms to describe workplace behaviors and attitudes we already know all about, but hadn’t defined before. 


While “quiet quitting” is not truly quitting your job, it is genuinely quiet behavior. Someone who is quiet quitting does not complain to coworkers. They do not openly refuse their supervisors’ or clients’ requests. Quiet quitters may not even be noticeable at first, as they go on working as they always have. They just quietly stop doing extra tasks, and instead calmly go about carrying out the basic duties of their job at an acceptable level of quality. 

“Resenteeism” is far from quiet. If your workplace is experiencing “resenteeism,” the people who work for you, contractors who work with you, vendors who service you, and anyone else in any way dependent upon your business as a source of income are noticeably and openly unhappy with the way things are managed. The only reason employees, contractors, clients, and vendors experiencing “resenteeism” stay is because they do not believe they can find another job, or another business to work with in order to earn an income. Workers may languish in resenteeism for years, or they may find another job through “rage applying.”

Rage applying

Whether you enjoy using new terms like “resenteeism” and “quiet quitting,” or you prefer to describe things with traditional phrases like “openly hating your job but feeling stuck there” and “doing the bare minimum to keep a disliked job,” a commonsense solution to job dissatisfaction is to seek other work. But “rage applying” is not simply going after alternative sources of income. 

Workers who are “rage applying” are sending out large numbers of applications to other jobs, fueled by the desire to work anywhere but their current place of business. 

Much of the time, this serves to make the person feel better in the short term, but doesn’t often lead to any lasting improvement in a person’s career. Angrily dashing off applications to multiple employers can lead to mistakes and oversights that send your application materials straight to the circular file. The practice also leaves little room for carefully applying to jobs that might be a better fit for you. 

But in some cases, rage applying does lead to a job offer. In the best case scenario, nothing in the above paragraph is true for you, and you will find the job you were meant to have all along. But if you were too hasty in applying and too quit to accept the new job, you may experience “shift shock.” 

Shift shock

“Shift shock” can certainly happen in a job that has been carefully selected, meticulously applied for, and thoughtfully considered before being accepted. But it seems a bit more likely that you will experience “shift shock” if you found your new job through “rage applying.”

“Shift shock” describes the experience of discovering or realizing that your job is not what you thought it would be. Taking a new position and discovering it has a few downsides is nothing alarming. Many people underestimate how difficult it will be to wake up much earlier than they used to, or how much money they now have to spend on extra gas or public transportation or lunches out. Feeling more tired than before, feeling unsure of yourself because you’re new, and making mistakes while learning a new job are all normal workplace experiences. 

The situation becomes “shift shock” when the job clearly is not the one you should have taken. In a June 1, 2023 “True You” online magazine article titled “What is job shift shock and what can you do about it?” author Elizabeth Harris outlines three signs of shift shock. These range from feeling like you don’t belong, learning that you are in a role that is very different from the one you believed you accepted, and regretting leaving your old job or career path. This may lead you to become…or wish to be…a “boomerang employee.”

Boomerang employee

A “boomerang employee” is someone who goes back to a job they have previously quit. In some cases, the boomerang employee left their job for a reason other than job dissatisfaction, and returned once their life was on the right track to resume their work. Other “boomerang employees” are enticed back to the company. The afterschool childcare program “Right at School” recently sent emails with the subject line “We want you back” to people they had so much as offered a job in the past. The message promised a $500 bonus to anyone who was willing to change their mind and accept, or return to, a previously offered position with the company. 

Other “boomerang employees” are people who seek, sometimes even work, other jobs for a period of time, and then go through the employment process, or begin networking with the goal of returning to a former workplace. 

Of course, one of the best ways to lessen the chaos that comes with hating jobs, quitting jobs, regretting taking jobs, and going back to old jobs is “career cushioning.”

Career cushioning

Another new term for an old practice, “career cushioning” is a fresh term for the well-known practice of “keeping your options open.” It can also be defined as “making preparations to continue your career in the event that you lose your job.” 

Career cushioning can include behaviors such as searching for other jobs in your field while still employed, continuing to network, and continuing to put in applications and send out resumes. It can also include updating your skills, returning for more training or education, or starting a side business related to your field. 


Only time will tell if a new term will be coined for saying “I quit” and walking out the door. 


Jess Szabo
Jess Szabo
Jess Szabo' is a novelist, writing teacher, and content writer for Utica area artists. Her online workspace can be found at

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