This study follows the progress of newly qualified social workers (NQSWs) through their first year in employment. Questionnaire and interview data were gathered from NQSWs and line managers working in children and families teams in three local authorities in the south west of England during 2007. Although all of the NQSWs started their first jobs with optimism and confidence, a combination of the day-to-day reality of the work and the organisational conditions under which it was undertaken led to increasing levels of frustration and unhappiness. This rapid decline in the well-being of NQSWs appeared to be the result of a failure on the part of their employers to properly recognise the person within the developing professional. Unfortunately, by focusing almost exclusively on what NQSWs employed in children's services across England need to know and do, the pilot induction programmes introduced since the study was completed run the risk of reinforcing this tendency. It is argued that this is likely to result in an increasingly disillusioned workforce, lacking the motivation and self-belief necessary to provide the high quality services required to effectively safeguard and promote the welfare of children and young people in the future.