The Mitsubishi automotive plant in Normal announced it was closing last July 24. For car assembler Mick Hannah, who had worked at the factory for 26 years, it was the start of "one of the worst periods of my life."
A few months after the layoff, Hannah found part-time work he didn't want or like. He then struggled for nearly seven months to find fulltime employment.
His story has a happy ending, though.
Hannah, 56, now works at Bloomington Cycle and Fitness. He repairs, builds and rebuilds bicycles. An avid cyclist who owns five bikes, Hannah says the job is a perfect fit, combining his passion for cycling with paid work.
In an interview on WGLT's Sound Ideas, Hannah said networking with friends and colleagues, rather than Internet job listings or the want ads, proved the best source for job leads.
He has a message for those who do the hiring at companies: answer job applicants' queries, even if it is to say "not interested" or "the job has been filled."
Hannah said he applied for about 60 jobs within a three or four month period, but only heard back from about five companies.
"They were just not responding. This was my life, this was my income, I needed a job. But the people in charge of hiring don't really seem to care about the people, they just care about their positions," Hannah said.
He also talks about what it's like to drive past the plant, which remains empty. He offers this advice to those still struggling to find work: "Persevere. Keep looking, because there's going to be something out there."