What is TikTok trend QuitTok? Why young people are filming themselves leaving their jobs on social media

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One expert said people are “playing a really risky game” by taking part in the trend

Making the decision to leave a job can be a difficult one, but as most people spend a large portion of their time at work it is important to be happy in a job role. Unhappiness at work could lead to a variety of issues, including mental health problems and stress which can then also have a negative impact on personal relationships. 

The usual method of declaring an intention to leave a job may include having a face-to-face meeting with a superior and then handing in a written resignation, but in the social media age many young people are taking a different approach and filming themselves while they quit their job.

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The practice has become so popular, in fact, that it’s led to the hashtag #QuitTok which has gained almost 40 million views at the time of writing - and that number is continuing to grow. But, just why are people choosing to leave their jobs in such a public way, where did the trend begin, and what impact could it have on employees? NationalWorld spoke to two experts to find out what you need to know.

Where did the QuitTok trend come from?

It’s not clear who started the hashtag #QuitTok, but the idea of being open and honest about quitting your job on a social media platform is largely attributed to a TikToker called Marisa Jo. The young woman, who goes by the screen name @itsmarisajo, went viral on TikTok in 2020 after sharing a short video on the platform of her leaving her position.

The 35-second video showed Jo as she prepared to make the phone call to her boss, documented the phone call and then also showed how she felt after the call. She captioned the video: “It’s like an elephant took its foot off my chest, but I’m also sad. Onward and upward”. In the video, right before she made the phone call, she said: “I’m shaking and you can probably hear my heartbeat.” During the call, she then told her boss she had made the decision to move on. After quitting, she then said he felt like a weight had been lifted and smiled. The video has now been viewed over 212,000 times and has over 3,000 comments.

The video received many positive comments from people who praised Jo for being brave. One person commented: “OMG! Why is stuff like this so hard?!?! I’m so happy for you GREAT JOB”. Another person said: “This is where we all learn that life isn’t about how much money you make. It’s about being happy. If you’re not happy, money isn’t gonna fix it.” One other user said they had also quit their job but they did not miss it. Another person admitted they were nervous for Jo, but said they were proud of her for making the decision.

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Jo, who is also credited as being the creator of another TikTok trend called bare minimum Mondays, also shared with her followers that she had no choice but to quit her job via a phone call due to the fact that she worked remotely, but said that she had followed up the call with a formal letter of resignation.

Why are people quitting their jobs on TikTok?

The trend appears to be particularly popular with younger generations, such as members of Gen Z, and part of the reason they are happy to post these videos could simply be because they are used to sharing personal details online. People who are in their early 20s or younger have grown up with the internet and, in turn that means they have also grown up with social media. It is common for young people of this age to share their milestone moments online as they are digital natives.

People are filming themselves while they quit their job - and posting the video on TikTok.People are filming themselves while they quit their job - and posting the video on TikTok.
People are filming themselves while they quit their job - and posting the video on TikTok. | TikTok/NationalWorld/Mark Hall

Geraldine Joaquim, a clinical hypnotherapist and wellness coach, told NationalWorld: “It’s become an almost unconscious habit, just a part of their daily lives to record clips and take snaps. Plus, there is a drive for authenticity on these platforms, to show real emotions and reactions which engages a bigger audience. It also creates a sense of community because practically everyone has experienced similar moments, whether you’ve actually gone through with quitting or not, we’ve all had thoughts about it at some time or other.”

Corinne Mills, Career Coach and Managing Director of Personal Career Management, called the trend interesting and said she wondered if people were looking for validation for their actions by taking part. She added: “If you’ve been really badly treated by an employer you can think I’m taking a bit of power back, I’m going to have my revenge and tell the world how awful they have been. I understand the impulse, but it will not reflect well on you.”

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What impact could quitting a job on social media have on an employee?

Mills said people should think very hard before taking part in the #QuitTok trend because it could have a negative impact on their future job prospects. She told NationalWorld: “Most employers will Google you to see what they can find on social media about you and if you are publicly humiliating an employer then who’s going to touch you with a barge pole? It’s not building any kind of trust.” She added that a potential employer may then question what else a person partaking in the trend has made public and question if they could trust them with things such as sensitive company information.

Mills also said there could be potential legal ramifications for people if they name their employer during the videos, or if the identity of their employer can be discovered. She pointed out that although a person may not name an employer directly in the video, it may be possible to determine who they are talking about by taking a look at their other social media accounts, such as LinkedIn, where such detail would be documented. She added: “There’s a real boundary issue around this that young people need to be really conscious of because it might come back and bite them. If you want future employers to trust you then you are playing a really risky game.”

Joaquim said, however, that there could be positive implications of the trend, if it helps to hold employers accountable for how they treat their staff and also create better working environments. She added that younger generations seem more at ease with moving on from jobs than their older peers, and for them quitting a job is simply part of the process. They are not prepared to accept unfair working practices and are seeking more from their work than just their salary. She said: “They want a more balanced approach to their work-life experience, which prioritises positive mental health. To this end, the #QuitTok may be helping towards creating more transparency in the corporate world, alongside platforms such as Glassdoor where employees can review their workplaces.”

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