Gartner’s Hype Cycle Meets the Millennial Career Development Framework

Whether it’s the latest car model rolling onto the showroom floor or unveiling the latest mobile device, all new ideas have “hype” cycles.

The term "Hype Cycle" was developed and branded by consulting firm Gartner Group to represent maturity, adoption and social application of specific technologies. Yet the hype cycle concept can also be used in correlation with employment trends. The millennial hype cycle of life-long learning and career development mirrors the Gartner Hype Cycle.

In a key employment trend, Millennials (ages 22 to 37 in 2018) will re-invent themselves every three to five years. Millennials should look at the “Hype Cycle” timeline as part of their career planning process, and incorporate technology “triggers” for career advancement through proficiency in emerging technologies. This re-invention of skill sets is crucial in not only today’s fast-paced digital transformation wave and will be in the future. Digital transformation is here to stay.

The Gartner Hype Cycles provide a graphic representation of the maturity and adoption of technologies and applications, and how they are potentially relevant to solving real business problems and exploiting new opportunities,” wrote Gartner in its description of the Hype Cycle.

Relevance to Career Services and Career Coaching:

When students enroll in a new program or when graduates start a new job, they are filled with promise and excitement.  As career counselors, we know that job search and careers can be a roller coaster of ups and downs and young people must plan with a long-term strategy in place. 

How to interpret the Hype Cycle with a career development perspective

Technology Trigger – The hype cycle like a new program or job begins with excitement and great possibilities

Peak of Inflated Expectations --The stage where advocates believe new technology can save the world – or in the case of a new school experience or job – anything is possible.

Trough of Disillusionment – When the adrenaline wears off, the hard reality sets in that success requires hard work and consistency.  Frustration and doubts may set in; the value of the experience may be questioned.

Slope of Enlightenment – In this stage, the student/employee’s perspective becomes more positive. Most students see the value of their education (long-term) and new employees see the value of skill building and developing a solid work history.

Plateau of Productivity – In this stage the student or employee settles in and maximizes the new skills they have learned. Employees refine their interests and clarify their niche.  This leads to a new hype cycle with the prospect of exciting new skills to be learned and new knowledge to exploit.

Recurring exercises for students and graduates

In a Life-long Learning economy, skill building never stops. As we evolve, the way we describe ourselves and our work changes.  Here are a few exercises that should be given on a periodic basis to measure how students and employees change.  These exercises can help people measure their knowledge, skills, and abilities as their careers evolve:  

Managing Career Expectations of New Graduates

Career Services departments need to make sure their students and new graduates understand that the steps they are taking now will be repeated over and over again.

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics confirms this:

A BLS news release published in March 2015 examined the number of jobs that people born in the years 1957 to 1964 held from age 18 to age 48. The title of the report is "Number of Jobs Held, Labor Market Activity, and Earnings Growth among the Youngest Baby Boomers: Results from a Longitudinal Survey." The report is available on the BLS web site at:

These younger baby boomers held an average of 11.7 jobs from ages 18 to 48. (In this report, a job is defined as an uninterrupted period of work with a particular employer.) On average, men held 11.8 jobs and women held 11.5 jobs.

Whether Millennials will change jobs a little more or less than Baby Boomers is not the point.  They will change jobs frequently and will need to repeat their first job search process each time.

Complicating matters is an explosion of contracting, consulting and other hybrid work arrangements that have changed the marketplace.  It is more important than ever for those who counsel students and graduates to help them develop long term career strategies, and explain the need to integrate these strategies into the lives of their clients.

 Note:  The Hype cycle is true for boomers as well.  Every new job experience follows the steps. 

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