Having a haircut 'not jobseeking'
Instead people should build up "points" for activities that genuinely help them get work in order to receive benefits, according to a Policy Exchange paper.
The call comes with the coalition and Labour both insisting that those who contribute to society should be prioritised in the welfare system.
Housing minister Grant Shapps has signalled that workers could go to the top of queues for council housing, while Ed Miliband used his speech at the Labour party conference this week to hit out at individuals who want "something for nothing".
One acceptable activity is "seeking specialist advice on improving your job prospects with regard to any physical or mental limitations" - which could include having a haircut, according to the study.
As a result, research has found UK jobseekers only spend an average of eight minutes a day looking for work, even though the public want them to be hunting for up to five hours.
The paper proposes introducing a points-based system based on tougher job hunting requirements. Activities such as attending a job interview would earn claimants more points than putting together a CV, or "seeking information" about jobs.
The report's author, Matthew Oakley, said: "Most employees are obliged to work full time at the tasks set by their employers to support themselves financially.
"If they don't they are liable to be sacked and lose their income. Jobseekers should be similarly obliged to work full time at fulfilling the obligations attached to their benefit receipt. If they don't then those benefits should be withdrawn."
© 2011 Press Association