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Antecedents of Underemployment: Job Search of Skilled Immigrants in Canada


  • This study was supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. The authors wish to thank Drs Victoria Esses, Alison Konrad, Joerg Dietz, Christopher Higgins, and Ronald Burke.

Laura Guerrero, Department of Management, The University of Texas at El Paso, 500 West University Avenue, El Paso, Texas 79968, USA. Email:


We investigate factors that skilled immigrants can improve in order to have better job search outcomes, in particular to avoid underemployment. We test an unfolding model which considers barriers faced by skilled immigrants during their job search (language and cultural barriers, and the lack of social support in the receiving country), job search constructs and job search outcomes (including underemployment). We collected data through an online questionnaire and obtained 357 usable responses from skilled immigrants in Canada. The hypotheses were tested with partial least squares (PLS). Language fluency and cultural knowledge were positively related to both job search clarity and job search self-efficacy. Social support was only related to job search self-efficacy. Job search clarity was related to job search intensity. Job search intensity was related to the number of interviews, which in turn, was related to the number of job offers. Finally, the number of job offers was negatively related to underemployment. Our paper contributes to the understanding of the job search of skilled immigrants by examining factors that can help them overcome obstacles and obtain better job search outcomes.