‘Friends’ help students get the job done

By: Maria Allard | Warren Weekly | Published March 5, 2024

 On Feb. 27, retired GM human resources executive and Army veteran James Bailey talks to Lincoln High School students about building their resume and their brand.

On Feb. 27, retired GM human resources executive and Army veteran James Bailey talks to Lincoln High School students about building their resume and their brand.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


WARREN — For 23 years, James Bailey worked as a human resources executive for General Motors Co., where he oversaw 10 automobile plants in three countries with a total of 28,000 employees.

Prior to that, Bailey was employed with IBM and before that he served five years in the U.S. Army, which included two tours in Europe and one in Central America.

Bailey, now retired, volunteers his time talking to others about his experiences. On Feb. 27, Bailey brought his expertise to Lincoln High School for a resume writing workshop.

“I just like to plant a seed. I see this as something they learn and will build on it,” he said. “I want them to get this early in life and build off these principles.”

Bailey talked to a number of students inside the media center about what companies are looking for in potential employees. As one example, he gave advice on how to dress while on the job.

“Men should wear business casual, nice slacks, fitted not baggy and not overly trendy, a nice polo shirt,” he said. “No loud colors, no red shoes.”

For female employees, Bailey offered several suggestions.

“Simple, clean basic clothing. The dress has to hit the knee. If it’s too short, it looks like you are going to the club,” Bailey said. “Don’t be showing any cleavage. You are contributing to a sexually charged atmosphere, and it’s distracting. If you’re a distraction, you’re affecting productivity.”

Bailey talked about someone he saw on TikTok who told her viewers “just do the minimum” when at work. But that has consequences, he warned.

“Don’t be surprised if you’re stuck in a dead-end job,” Bailey said. “Everyone knows who is a good employee when they’re not just doing their job, but they’re doing more.”

Looking someone in the eye and shaking their hand when on a job interview is very important.

“It shows confidence and shows I’m someone who can be part of your organization,” Bailey said.

He recommended the students have a brand, which includes how they dress and present themselves. Also, be mindful of your behavior.

“Your best resume can be undermined by your own actions. Be careful what you say on social media. It can get you fired. They’re watching you,” Bailey said. “Take away the excuses. Focus and get around the right people. Find a plan, focus and do it.”

After the presentation, David Forney, president of the Macomb Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc., worked one-on-one with students as did members of the Friends on a Mission to Serve organization, which formed in August 2022 and services areas in Macomb County.

Cynthia Miree-Coppin is the president of Friends on a Mission to Serve, and Tuanda Ward-Holmes is the program director. Lincoln High School social worker Glynis Dale is also a member of the organization. Other members include doctors, lawyers, professors and entrepreneurs.

“It’s a group of women who are friends who have come together to do service in Macomb County. Most of us have known each other 20 years or more,” Miree-Coppin said. “We have the skills and passion to make a difference.”

The group, which has 38 members, will be at Lincoln three times this year to offer guidance and support. The resume writing workshop was the group’s initial visit. Members will return in March to conduct mock interviews with the students and then in April for a job fair.

“I am hoping they will see their hopes and dreams are within reach and that their thoughts are validated,” Miree-Coppin said.

“I think they’re really excited to do the resumes,” Ward-Holmes said. “We’re so grateful to Lincoln High School to host this workshop.”

When writing their resumes, Miree-Coppin and Ward-Holmes encouraged the students to not only include their skills but also any awards they won.

Robyn Murphy, who is the chair of the group’s youth connection committee, had the opportunity last week to talk with a student interested in becoming an engineer.

“It brought me back to my senior year,” said Murphy, who grew up in Kinston, North Carolina, and is senior talent acquisition representative for Delta Air Lines.

Murphy is a natural when talking to young people about their potential careers.

“Not everyone has access to the experiences I am blessed to have,” she said. “I look for opportunities to give back.”