Skip to main content

Guidance notes

Guidance notes for completing an application form

Before completing each section of the job application form, we recommend you read the guidance notes below.  You must complete all sections of the application form.  If any mandatory fields are incomplete the system will not allow you to submit your application for consideration.

Personal details

Right to live and work in the UK

If you have any doubt if you comply with the right to live and work in the UK, please refer to the guidance below.

In accordance with the Asylum and Immigration Act 1996 as amended by the Immigration (Restrictions on Employment) Order 2004, if you are asked to interview you will be required to provide evidence (original documents only) that you are allowed to live and work in the UK. If you are offered the post the evidence provided will need to be copied and recorded by us prior to commencement. These will be original documents which will be copied and returned; the copy will be retained on your personal file.

For guidance, please read the preventing illegal working document below: Preventing illegal working guide [PDF, 162KB]

Additional details

Cautions and Convictions and DBS Checks


If you have a criminal record, it will not necessarily bar you from working with us. It will depend upon the nature of the position that you are applying for and the circumstances and background of your offences.


Posts which do not require a DBS check

Convictions are regarded as spent and need not be disclosed on your application form when the following rehabilitation periods have elapsed since the date of convictions.

For further information about Rehabilitation Periods please go to


Posts which require a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check

A number of our roles require the person undertaking the role to have satisfactory DBS clearance.  If you are successful in applying for one of these roles you will be asked to undergo a DBS check which will highlight both spent and unspent cautions, convictions and reprimands and so on. Any offer of employment will remain provisional until satisfactory clearance has been received.

If you are applying for a post which involves contact with children or vulnerable adults, you must also declare on your application form whether you have been barred from working with children or from working with adults. For these roles an additional check is undertaken to ensure that the individual has not been barred from working with the client group for which they have applied to work (these checks are made against the DBS Children's List and/or the DBS Adult's List).


Filtering Guidance

The amendments to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions) Order 1975 (2013 and 2020) provides that when applying for certain jobs and activities, certain convictions and cautions are considered ‘protected’. This means that they do not need to be disclosed to employers, and if they are disclosed, employers cannot take them into account.

All guidance and criteria on the filtering of these cautions and convictions can be found in the DBS filtering guidance

The following questions may help you determine which spent convictions and cautions you do need to disclose if the role you apply for requires a DBS check.

  • Do you have any unspent conditional cautions or convictions under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974? (Y/N)?
  • Do you have any adult cautions (simple or conditional) or spent convictions that are not protected as defined by the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions) Order 1975 (Amendment) (England and Wales) Order 2020? (Y/N)?”

The DBS Code of Practice is available on the GOV.UK website.

Current employment details

Give details of your current employment, including any volunteer or non-paid roles.  If you are not currently employed, please provide details of your most recent employment/role. If you currently have more than one job, include them all.

Previous employment

Employment History

Please detail your full employment history with the most recent first. It is important to list your employment history by month and year to demonstrate the full breadth of your experience. You should include any voluntary or unpaid work, work experience, government training schemes, casual or holiday work.

We reserve the right to contact any previous employer.

Gaps in Employment

You must account for all your time since leaving full-time education. Please use this section to record any periods by month and year that are not covered in the above employment dates, for example, where you were unemployed or taking a break for family reasons.

Education history and additional information

Provide details of your entire educational history.  This is required to enable us to shortlist your application appropriately and it could help to explain a gap in your employment history.

Additional information

Requests to work flexibly

The Council anticipates that the majority of its roles can be worked flexibly if the applicant requests it and subject to the needs of the service. Where this is not possible then this will be highlighted in the vacancy advertisement.

Guaranteed interview scheme

  1. As part of our “Disability Confident” employer status, if you have declared a disability and if the panel agree that your application fulfils the essential criteria for the job then you will be guaranteed an interview.

Commitment to disabled people: Disabled applicants can face additional challenges to gaining employment and we are committed to promoting employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

Support and assistance: We also aim to ensure that our recruitment process is flexible and supportive to individual needs so please ask our recruitment team, telephone: 01752 307793 or email if you need any assistance in completing the application form.

Reasonable adjustments: If you are invited for interview, you should let the recruiting manager know if you need any assistance or reasonable adjustments in order to be able to attend and wherever possible we will make the necessary arrangements.  Examples could include:

  • A car parking space for interview
  • Ensuring the interview is held in an accessible room
  • Facility to be accompanied by a carer, assistant or other person
  1. Before any interview we will let you know:
  • The location, date and time of the selection process
  • The way we will conduct the selection process e.g. use of tests

This will give you a chance to contact us to discuss any adjustments or assistance.

Definition of disability: Under the Equality Act 2010 a person has a disability if they have a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long term adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day to-day activities.

Impairment: A disability can arise from a wide range of impairments including: mental illness, learning disabilities, deaf and hard of hearing, sight impairments, diabetes, dyslexia, heart conditions, etc.

Substantial: This is something more than minor or trivial and beyond normal differences in ability which may exist among people.

Long-term adverse effect: The effect must be a detrimental one and is long-term if it has lasted or is likely to last for at least 12 months or for the rest of a person’s life. If the effect is likely to recur beyond 12 months it is treated as long term.

Normal day-to-day activities: These are activities carried out by most people on a fairly regular and frequent basis.  They do not include specialised activities which are normal only for a particular person or a group of people.

Progressive conditions: This applies to conditions which will increase in severity overtime and are medically diagnosed as likely to have a substantial adverse effect on the ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities before they actually have this effect. Examples include muscular dystrophy, systemic lypus erythematosis (SLE), various types of dementia and motor neurone disease.  A person who has cancer, HIV infection or multiple sclerosis (MS) will automatically be considered disabled under the Act. Those officially certified as blind or sight impaired by a consultant ophthalmologist may also automatically be covered.

Care Leavers

The Council wishes to offer continued support to those young people who have been in the Council’s care.  A guaranteed interview will therefore be offered to care leavers provided that:

  1. they have previously been in Plymouth City Council’s care and
  2. they meet the essential criteria for an advertised role  

This will apply to both apprenticeship and non-apprenticeship roles advertised by the Council.

Service Leavers

The Council is committed to supporting its armed forces community and has signed the Armed Forces Covenant.  When a service leaver applies for a job, they will be able to indicate on the application form their service leaver status. A guaranteed interview will be offered to service leavers, provided that:

  1. the armed forces were the service leaver’s last long-term employer
  2. no more than 2 years has elapsed since the service leaver left the armed forces
  3. the service leaver meets the essential criteria for an advertised role


All roles

One of the references must be from your current or most recent employer. If you are a school leaver, unemployed or a returner to the workplace, then this may not always be possible. In these circumstances you may give an alternative referee, for example a personal or educational reference. However, these referees must be able to comment on your skills and abilities in relation to the post.

Referees must not be related to you.

For internal applicants, an additional referee could be another manager, representative from an agency, or colleague who has worked closely with you.

Internal candidates moving between posts within Plymouth City Council need provide only one written reference from their employing department.

References or testimonials provided directly by the candidate are not accepted nor are open references for example 'to whom it may concern'.

Roles that have contact with children or vulnerable adults.

If you are applying for a post which involves contact with children or vulnerable adults and are working, or have worked, in these areas, on a paid or voluntary basis, your current or past employer will be asked about:

1. disciplinary offences relating to children or vulnerable adults, including any for which the penalty is time expired (where a warning could no longer be taken into account in any new disciplinary hearing for example).

2. whether you have been the subject of any protection concerns, and if so, the outcome of any enquiry or disciplinary procedure.

If references do not cover at least the last five years of employment, it may be necessary to seek more than two referees or educational/personal referees where applicants have not been in work. Further details may be required from you during the interview process.

The purpose of references is to give the panel additional, unbiased information. 

Experience and Knowledge

Please clearly describe how you meet the requirements set out in the Role Profile, giving examples from your past employment, interests, school or college life, voluntary work or life experiences.

It is advisable to format your answer so that your evidence corresponds to the relevant criteria on the Role Profile. It is important that you do not just make general statements – you need to provide evidence.

The Role Profile contains a summary of the Experience, Knowledge and Qualifications we would expect the ideal person for the job to have. The essential criteria are considered absolutely crucial to the job and desirable criteria are considered beneficial. The panel will select candidates for interview by considering each application and looking for evidence to show that candidates meet each of the criteria.

The Role Profile also provides a summary of the Skills and Technical Competencies (behaviours and technical skills) the successful candidate will need to be able to demonstrate. While it is sometimes difficult to demonstrate competencies on an application form, it is important that you make reference to how you believe you could meet them on your application form, and be aware that it is likely these will be tested either at the interview and/or through an assessment during the recruitment process.

If you are a person with a disability and because of your impairment cannot fulfil certain criteria contained in the Role Profile; please use this section to explain how you could meet the requirements in an alternative way, or with reasonable adjustments.

It is quite acceptable to use headings or bulleted lists so that your evidence corresponds to the relevant item on the person specification.

Data Protection

The Council collects and processes personal data relating to applicants for the purpose of assessing suitability for employment, and authorising reference and security checks where necessary. 

Here is more information on the Privacy notice

Complaints procedure

If you feel that you have not been treated properly or fairly, you can write to the Service Director for HR & OD, Ballard House, West Hoe Road Plymouth, PL1 3BJ. Your complaint will be investigated in accordance with the complaints procedure. You will get a written reply, and if something has gone wrong we will say so and try to put it right.