For Gabby Ianniello, it was the blisters from wearing stilettos every morning to her real estate job that employees had called to the office last fall. For Giovanna Gonzalez, it was those three small letters, RTO, from her wealth management boss. For Tiffany Knighten, it was the discovery that a teammate’s annual salary was more than $10,000 higher than hers for a role at her level.
They were fed up. They were ready to step down. And they wanted their TikTok followers to know.
“My sanity welcomed me back after leaving c*rporate America,” read the caption on Ms. Knighten’s video posted in September, in which she wore a hat that read “I hate it here” and danced to Ariana Grande’s “Thank U, Next.”
America’s departure rate — the percentage of employees who voluntarily quit their jobs — is at an all-time high, reaching 3 percent this fall. It is also exceptionally visible. People celebrate their firing in Instagram roles or “QuitToks”. They turn to the Reddit forum R/antiwork, where subscriptions have exploded this year, to brag about being free from their 9-to-5 jobs. They are tweeting screenshots of texts to their bosses declaring that they have quit.
“People have been telling me, ‘Sister, I’ve quit my job. Let’s have a drink,’” said Ms Knighten, a 28-year-old black woman. She said she faced persistent micro-aggressions at her previous workplace and left to run her own communications agency called Brand Curators “Everyone is loud and proud to say they’ve let go of what didn’t serve them.”
Even chief executives join in the public resignations. The head of Twitter, Jack Dorsey, shared on his own platform this week that he would be stepping down. “Not sure if anyone has heard but I resigned from Twitter,” wrote Mr Dorsey, posting a screenshot of an email that concluded: “PS I’m tweeting this email. My only wish is for Twitter Inc to become the most transparent company in the world Hello mama!”
There was once a time when broadcasting the decision to retire may have seemed unwise, or at the very least rude. Traditionally, career coaches advised their clients not to discredit former employers online. While there was always a section of employees who quit loudly on principle, recruiters often raised their eyebrows at candidates who had disclosed negative experiences in their previous positions. But after more than a year of battling a pandemic, protests against racial justice and all the personal and social turmoil that followed those events, some workers are ready to reject old professional standards and take a breather.
“People are frustrated, exhausted, triggered,” said JT O’Donnell, founder of the career coaching platform Work It Daily. “When people are triggered, you see fight or flight reactions. This is a fighting response.”
If quitters think they can hit back at their old bosses without fear of alienating potential future employers, they may be right. The demand-supply curve of the labor market is working in their favor and employers are becoming less choosy. The proportion of ZipRecruiter positions requiring “no previous experience” rose this year from 12.8 percent in 2020 to 22.9 percent. The proportion requiring a bachelor’s degree fell from 11.4 percent to 8.3 percent. Some parts of the United States see significant differences between job openings and job seekers — Nebraska, for example, has 69,000 unfilled vacancies and 19,300 unemployed. Experiences that once would have hurt a job seeker’s prospects, such as taking time off for childcare, are forgiven.
“I’ve been doing this for 25 years and it’s the tightest job market I’ve ever seen,” said Tom Gimbel, head of LaSalle Network, a national employment agency. “I have clients who have such a need for people that if they weren’t looking at people who previously had gaps in their resumes, they are now.”
Some hiring managers have come to feel that it might be safer to allow a staff shortage to persist for too long, which they viewed as a dubious hire, for example someone who shot a former chief executive online, than to allow a staff shortage to persist, resulting in burnout.
“In the past, it could have given people a moment of pause, in terms of what it would mean for their organization, if a working relationship didn’t end on wonderful terms,” Melissa Nightingale, co-founder of Raw Signal Group, a management training company, said. “Now the big focus for organizations is less on the individual risk of that one position and more on the broader risk of an understaffed workforce.”
Executives are also more sympathetic to the quitters in their own ranks. According to Anthony Klotz, an organizational psychologist at Texas A&M University, bosses saw leaving as betrayal, like “being dumped in high school.” Now they understand that employees are restless. Mr. Klotz noted an increase in employers offering one-year leave to employees who resign, meaning the quitters can choose to return at any time with all of their previous benefits.
But some people don’t care if they slam the door behind them when they go out.
Mrs. Ianniello, 28, has a long list of bickering with her old business lifestyle. While working as a marketing coordinator in Manhattan, she woke up at 4:45 a.m. to an iPhone alarm she called “you got this babe,” and blew her hair out before embarking on a 45-minute commute. Her days consisted of sad lunches at the desk and “by my last email.”
She quit in February, with about $10,000 in savings, and posted a TikTok in the summer to tell her followers she’d found a new sense of bliss. “Right now, quitting is the best thing to do,” said Ms. Ianniello, who started a podcast called Corporate Quitter. “It’s almost like the dotcom bubble, when you made your AIM name and you were an early adopter. You may be part of the Great Resignation.”
Some career coaches cringe at the rush to make layoff stories public. Many warned that hiring managers, even desperate ones, search social media and view posts about former employers as a red flag. Others noted that the current labor shortage, with a staff shortage of about 3 million people, will not be permanent and that at some point there will be more demand for jobs than for workers.
“Things like this swing back and forth,” Ms O’Donnell said, adding that she was alarmed by some of the etiquette violations she’d seen of people leaving their jobs in today’s market, where the two-tier standard weeks give’ message has shifted: “You have some people who are ghosts. They just never go in again. They don’t take calls.”
While employees may reject career advice from coaches, they find guidance elsewhere, especially in online communities. TikTok has hundreds of videos with the hashtag #quitmyjob, including some offering advice or moral support for people considering resigning.
Ms. Gonzalez, 32, who left her role as an asset manager in Phoenix last June, said she was hesitant to make the experience public because she didn’t want former colleagues to see the video and feel judged. But she also thought her followers might be motivated to learn about a first-generation American who saved wisely and set aside about $20,000 so she could afford to leave a safe position.
“I feel like I sound like Kourtney Kardashian, but I need some hamster wheel time to focus on myself,” Ms Gonzalez told followers on her TikTok account, adding, “I’m sharing this with you guys. , not to brag, but to show that this is possible.”
It’s decades of motivational posters, but vice versa: anyone can be a quitter.