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Transnational sensemaking narratives of highly skilled Canadian immigrants' career change

Dunja Palic (Sprott School of Business, Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada)
Luciara Nardon (Sprott School of Business, Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada)
Amrita Hari (Feminist Institute of Social Transformation, Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada)

Career Development International

ISSN: 1362-0436

Article publication date: 3 February 2023

Issue publication date: 16 August 2023




The authors answer calls for research on the experiences of international professionals' career transitions by investigating how highly skilled immigrants make sense of their career changes in the host country's labor market.


The authors report on a qualitative, inductive and elaborative study, drawing on sensemaking theories and career transitions literature and nine semi-structured reflective interviews with highly skilled Canadian immigrants.


The authors identified four career change narratives: mourning the past, accepting the present, recreating the past and starting fresh. These narratives are made sense of in a transnational context: participants contended with tensions between past, present and future careers and between relevant home and host country factors affecting their career decisions. Participants who were mourning the past or recreating the past identified more strongly with their home country professions and struggled to find resources in Canada. In accepting the present and starting fresh, participants leveraged host country networks to find career opportunities and establish themselves and their families in the new environment.


A transnational ontology emphasizes that immigrants' lives are multifaceted and span multiple national contexts. The authors highlight how the tensions between the home and host country career contexts shape immigrants' sensemaking narratives of their international career change. The authors encourage scholars and practitioners to take a transnational contextual approach (spatial and temporal) to guide immigrants' career transitions and integration into the new social environment.



The authors are deeply grateful to all immigrant women who shared their experience with us. The authors are also grateful for the financial support provided by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, grant 435-2020-0025. The funds received supported the PhD student involved in this project as well as all research costs incurred.


Palic, D., Nardon, L. and Hari, A. (2023), "Transnational sensemaking narratives of highly skilled Canadian immigrants' career change", Career Development International, Vol. 28 No. 4, pp. 392-405.



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