Jelena Zikic

Professor of Human Resources
York University, Toronto, Canada


Jelena Zikic, PhD (University of Toronto, Rotman School of Management) is an Associate Professor and Graduate Program Director at School of Human Resource Management, at York University in Toronto. She developed her expertise in the area of career transitions of diverse populations and currently studies the impact of global mobility on professional identity and relationships. In her work she aims to combine the individual as well as organizational perspective. She developed her career internationally and her work has appeared in journals such as Journal of Occupational and Organizational Behavior, Human Relations, Journal of Organizational Behavior, and Journal of Vocational Behavior among others. Her studies have been featured in the media as well as in major practitioner outlets such as Harvard Business Review.


Title of talk
When you can’t be who you are: career transitions of migrants and refugees

Many migrant receiving countries are increasingly more concerned about integrating migrants and refugees into the local workplace but also into their societies and culture overall. In our literature, migrants and refugees are often discussed as the ‘new form of diversity’ who experience many challenging forms of career and life transitions. Their experiences require us to reflect on our current understanding of coping with transitions, diversity of their experiences in and out of organizations and the meaning of successful integration. This State-of-the-Art presentation will introduce the audience to what we currently know about the challenges as well as facilitators of skilled migrant and refugee career transitions and integration. Specifically, by focusing on over 10 years of qualitative and quantitative studies in the area, I will describe my work on the individual, relational as well as organizational level perspective based on research conducted both in Europe and North America. The Individual perspective will focus on professional identity struggles, as well as coping with foreign career capital translation in and out of organizations. The Relational perspective will focus on mentoring relationships between migrants and local professionals as well as the value of local vs. foreign social capital in local job search. Finally, the organizational perspective will capture the ongoing debate on integration challenges vs. diversity facilitators, and propose an overarching model focusing on the value of high-quality connections between local and migrant workforce. The presentation will conclude with avenues for future research and some of the critical questions still facing researchers in this area.