© 2015, © The Author(s) 2015. Recent decades have seen the category of unemployment transformed into job-seeking. Attention has generally focused on the disciplining effects of interventions, procedures and techniques within social welfare offices, or on scrutinizing policy documents as political expressions of neo-liberalism. This article examines advice for unemployed people who are ‘seeking a role’, from the official leaflets of social welfare offices or Jobcentres, and state sponsored and associated careers websites and advice books. Such documents constitute an extension of the disciplinary apparatuses of government and particularly inculcate ‘self-discipline’ for actors in the labour market. Strikingly, these documents not only involve disciplining jobseekers to seek work, but to present themselves as an ideal candidate for any job, to become a protean thespian who can act convincingly. Jobseekers are required to manage, conceal and overcome the unpleasant economic and social consequences of unemployment and turn these negatives into a positive performance within a theatricalized labour market.