Turnaround Packet

Dealing with your record – creating a turnaround packet

At some point in the interview you’re going to have to deal with your criminal record. And this may be the most difficult thing to talk about.

But to prepare for this moment, you should create what Larry Robbin, a nationally-known expert in the area of workforce development, refers to as a turnaround packet. This is one of the most important things you will do as part of your job search, so take it seriously. And spend time putting one together. 

The packet is designed to convince hiring managers that you have turned your life around, and won’t reoffend. You’ve made the effort to improve your skills, character and relationships. You are not the same person you were when you made the mistake that got you incarcerated.

Things to include in a turnaround packet

Here’s what we recommend including. (But be sure to only choose items that show you have been rehabilitated and are not the same person who offended.)

  • Letters from groups you’ve done volunteer work for.
  • School enrollment forms.
  • Certificates of completion of training programs (both pre- and post-incarceration).
  • Courses you took while incarcerated.
  • A clean printout from the DMV, if you have a good driving record. Visit your local DMV office, and ask them to print one out for you.
  • Honorable or general discharge papers from the military, if you served. If it was a dishonorable discharge, don’t include it.
  • Photos of your accomplishments as a volunteer.
  • Copies of award certificates or other forms of recognition.
  • A copy of a clean drug/alcohol report, especially if you were arrested for drug use or have been in an alcohol or a drug rehab program.
  • Documentation of restitution, if you had to pay restitution to a victim or victims.
  • Photos of any hobbies or interests you might have, such as car or motorcycle restoration, dressmaking, artwork, furniture refinishing, gardening or whatever.
  • Photos of family, children and even pets. It can demonstrate you care, that you’ve rebuilt relationships, and are responsible and share common values with the hiring manager.
  • Accomplishments before the offense/incarceration can be good to include as well.
  • Your resume and master application.
  • Copy of your sobriety coin/chit, especially if your conviction was alcohol or drug related.
  • Three or four letters of recommendation. These are very important and can come from someone you’ve done volunteer work for, a former boss, your religious leader or spiritual advisor, or the leader of a community group you’re involved in.

Gather the items you decide to include and assemble them into a three-ring binder or other folder, preferably with each one in a plastic sleeve to protect it.

When you go to an interview you can share it with the hiring manager as you give your turnaround talk.