This article discusses the issue of choice as it applies to long-term unemployed and vulnerable individuals. It argues that the combination of poor employment opportunities, requirements, compulsions and sanctions has not merely reduced available choice for individuals with multiple barriers to re-/join the labour market but has also resulted in curtailed decision-making abilities when it comes to their pathways into employment. The outcomes can include protective resistance as a response to the extent of regulation, which may undermine engagement in job search and related activities. Despite attempts by benevolent staff in a charity to provide support and enhance capabilities that result in the overcoming of protective resistance, they operate within a broader institutional framework of choice as set by government policy. The end result is compulsion, not choice.