My situation is that the salary I get might be too big and might be one of reasons that I might be fired.

It feels that I should be working like 10 hours per day, and plus weekends to finish what they expect.

I am getting good salary, but far away from highest in the market. Still I did not even believe I ever will be able to earn as much as I am earning now. I would be happy if I earn 2x lower, but with condition that I can do things fast enough for that salary.

Of course I want to get a better salary, but the problem is I am not able to find a way to be so much productive as they are expecting. I have read various articles, even bought a book about productivity and read it. I have learned those things, maybe some not applying 100 %, like using keyboard shortcuts, I have not learned all possible ones, but most frequently ones which I need I have learned. And I see my boss not even using those but still do things much faster.

One of reasons can be that boss knows how everything should be coded, and when I code, and he reviews my code, there are lot of comments what needs to be fixed, and often it consumes big part of time to fix them, often happens that the same amount of time is consumed to make fixes which were commented in code review.

This is very serious. I have been fired from first job for low productivity after 9 months of work, then from third job after 8 months of work. And now I am in 4th job, already working 7 months, and now they might start think that I had enough time to get up to speed, plus my salary is highest I ever had got in my carreer.

I asked this big salary, because friends said that if I ask too low in interview, they might not hire me because they might think I am bad.

I do not think I am that bad in coding, my code quality is similar to other colleagues in my opinion.

So I am able to do good in job interviews where they cannot reassure how quick I work. In many interview I get some tasks during interview and also some give to do task at home, and it means I finish those quickly enough to win the job. Also they see my knowledge and my code quality from questioning and those tasks, which means it is not bad, since I pass.

But the problem starts after I had won a job. Almost always they are not happy about time I take to finish real world tasks.

If I had not tried to improve my productivity, of course first thing would be to find information on productivity and apply it. But it looks that I reached the limit.

But I do not want to struggle all my remaining life. Especially if I would get fired again after so short amount of time working, this would raise red flags in interviews.

My real carreer bottleneck is productivity and ideally I would like to start to be more productive and be able to earn as much as my friends, like almost twice.

But first priority is to have no stress and no risk of being fired and I can accept even lower money than I get now and be happy and from this point to learn to be better and raise my salary bit by bit, to not have stress for too big salary and expectations.

I understand that it would not be ideal of course, for the same reasons as it is not good to ask for lower salary in the interview. But I do not know what to do to have better life quality and to not be unemployed suddenly.

If you will say to not ask for lower salary, please say then what are other options, besides working overtime.

Plus my dream would be to work like 4-6 hours a day, because I have many fun things to do in life, but first goal is to do good with 8 hours a day.

You might also think about freelancing option where I can choose my conditions how I want. For me biggest problem is that I have bad people skills, and freelancer needs to deal good with clients. I would need some colleague who could do the dealing then, but I do not think I can do this anytime soon. Plus with freelancing and one man with low productivity, I will not be able to take big projects, because they will not be able to wait for so long. Unless it is possible to freelance on big project where several people work on one.


My experience

I am not so new in the market, I have like 6 years of experience. I had worked with various frameworks and tools, but the wide experience does not make me that much productive. Eg I know codeigniter and zend frameworks. When I am wokring with zend, my codeigniter knowledge does not help me. So I am at same speed as if I would knew only zend.


Are automated tests taking too much of my time?

I am considering this. I love tests when I have to edit my code and not having to manually retest everything. Plus good programmers say to use TDD. I discussed and said - that this is taking extra time, so is it worth to cover everything? He replied - it does not take much time to write a test. I do not believe that it does not take much time - I think it takes few times or maybe even 10x more to write a test than write a line of code which implements that case. So it might be only worth for complex functionality maybe. But Robert Martin writes in his book that we should test asymptotically 100 % because then we save lot of time by not having manually test.

Update - some people are even able to intentionally waste time and still are not fired

I am also thinking how unproductive I have to be that some people are able to work on their own projects during work hours, or watch movies, or play computer games, or just read news and Facebook and still not be fired for productivity.

I think even when I am less productive, when I work without wasting time, I should at least do same amount of work as those time wasters. Or maybe the problem is that those timewasters know how to talk nicely and they lie?

Update - about quitting job option

Some of you suggest quitting. I am again not sure if this is a best option, when I am working only 6 months. They have invested money into me so that I get domain knowledge, also technology knowledge - I gained very valuable experience of writing automated tests. And I myself invested nerves of being afraid that I might be fired. After getting the knowledge, I am more productive than I was 7 months before. So quitting might be also a wrong thing to do. And record on CV with 6 months in good company does not look good, especially after working 8 months in previous company.

What I want to know - is it ok to ask to reduce salary to compensate low productivity so that everyone would be happy?


I do not feel that I am lacking lot of technical skills for my salary and position. My friends do not even write automated tests but earn almost twice as much because of good productivity. I can make even complex (at least the most complex ones I have been assigned to do) features working. But I was fired for low productivity from 2 jobs. It is my 4th job, I do not want to be fired again for same reason and I do not want to work overtimes unless there is a special case like bug which does not allow users to use application. Can I ask for lower salary to compensate my lack of productivity skill when I am out of options how to improve my productivity? If not, then what are other options?

  • That is a lot of text. Please consider editing down to focus directly on the problem.
    – Myles
    Mar 16, 2017 at 20:34
  • I wish I am good fit :( I like programming, solving complex tasks. I just want to have quality life besides it. I was thinking about changing carreer, but unless it is something exciting and which do not require good people skills, I have no options. At other carrers with my poor people skills I might struggle even more that might start thinking I would like to work 10 hours a day as programmer better than working in some bad job. One of exciting carres would be poker playing, or speculating in forex - this also would use my brain. But I tried poker, and won only small amounts. Mar 16, 2017 at 20:35
  • @Myles - I wanted to add even more text to answer to SPavel post. So cant I really add now? I think this lot of text draws better picture of the sitution Mar 16, 2017 at 20:36
  • You can do what you want but currently it reads like a rant and more text will make it worse.
    – Myles
    Mar 16, 2017 at 20:42
  • 2
    @Will_create_nick_later If you wish to add more text, I would recommend using headers to break it all up, and a summary of your question.
    – SPavel
    Mar 16, 2017 at 20:55

6 Answers 6


You ask your boss to lower your salary. This tells your boss immediately that you must be rubbish at your job. That tells him that he should replace you with someone else for the same salary.

Your idea is career suicide. Don't even think about it.

You say "my boss knows I'm rubbish already". Has he told you? Has he said he wants to fire you? If he hasn't, then most likely his view of you is very different from your own. If your boss wanted you to work for less money, he would have told you. He hasn't, so that's not what he wants. I'll just repeat:

Your idea is career suicide. Don't even think about it.

And I have no idea how good you are at programming, but you are very, very bad at negotiating. Do absolutely not ask for a lower salary. That would be the most stupid move that you could ever make. The most important thing is that your boss thinks you are doing well. You start that process by telling yourself you are doing well. Gain confidence. And then let that confidence impress others.

  • Ok, then what are other options? Plys my boss see how I perform, he see how fast I do, he does code reviews, so he knows if I am rubbish already. So can really saying that I want lower salary diclose some new information about my quality? Mar 16, 2017 at 20:24
  • in my previous work my bosses not only did not tell I am rubbish, but after 3 months trial, they said they like how I work, they want very much that I continue to work. But mentioned - they will pay attention to my productivity. And after 5 more months - I was fired. So the lesson is - even if they say you do good - that does not mean it is true. So thats why I am worrrying at this company. Mar 16, 2017 at 21:20
  • @Will_create_nick_later Start looking for a new job if you're that worried. I've worked with very large companies where a few top performers were laid off during a massive "strategic restructuring" of the company to save money. Very myopic, but it happened all the same. As for asking for less salary? TERRIBLE IDEA. Also, your employer likely can't do that, even if you ask for it, as it would be tantamount to constructive dismissal, opening up your employer for a lawsuit. Bad bad bad bad idea.
    – Cloud
    Mar 16, 2017 at 22:44
  • 2
    @Will_create_nick_later This sounds like a classic case of imposter syndrome. Scott Hamselman did a very good blog post on the subject a while back. In short, people with great ability tend to underestimate their competence, dismissing any successes as luck. This is especially common in software engineers.
    – Trebor
    Mar 17, 2017 at 9:12
  • 1
    @RobBailey Did you miss the part where he was fired twice already for the same issues? He has ZERO success.
    – Jack
    Mar 19, 2017 at 11:31

Do not ask for less salary

Salary is not the only cost of retaining an employee. A lower salary will not substantially reduce your "footprint" on the company budget. It's also highly unlikely that paying you less will make the company want to keep you if they perceive there's a problem in the first place. They hired you because they thought your skills were right for the job they pay you for. If you cannot meet standards, they will fire you, because you are not the employee they need.

The real question is - are you meeting standards?

Do not compare yourself to your boss

Your boss makes more money than you. Your boss is more senior than you - that means he will be a better developer. This is normal and expected.

You should do two things. One - compare yourself to your colleagues. Are they achieving more than you? Much more than you? If yes, then try to work more closely with them to figure out how they are so good. If not, don't worry - but try working more closely with your boss, to figure out how he is that good.

Do not treat this as an attempt to go from inefficient to efficient. Instead, simply say that you want to learn from someone whose skills you respect.

If your friends are great developers that command premium salaries, can you learn from them?

Compare yourself to your KPIs

What are the key performance indicators of your position? Are you meeting deadlines? Does your code work after you've fixed it? As long as features are shipped on time, don't worry about it.

Your expectations to work 4 hour days are unrealistic, especially if you want to earn twice as much as your friends. Your boss is a senior developer who knows how quickly things get done. If you only have 4 hours of work, he will give you more work until you have 8 hours to do.

  • Yea, colleagues look like achieving more, except that they miss covering with automated tests often. I could also miss some automated tests to gain a bit more performance, but do I want to make worse quality? I am asking my friends from time to time, and they said not to reduce quality just to get better speed. I am not meeting deadlines. Why should boss give me work for 8 hours if my contract would be 4 hours day? Only maybe because he does not care as it is now? Mar 16, 2017 at 20:40
  • So you are working slower, but produce higher quality code. Your boss should see that. There is no problem.
    – SPavel
    Mar 16, 2017 at 20:42
  • yea, my boss see it. But he still has to explain to product owner why I am finishing so little amount of tasks. And maybe my quality is not worth the effort, even when I am in corporation. Maybe it is better to have less tests coverage but be faster. The product owner does not care about code quality, he just wants features to be quickly implemented. Mar 16, 2017 at 20:48
  • Discuss this with your boss. Maybe doing things 100% by-the-book is not worth it. If you can produce 90% perfect code twice as fast as 100% perfect code, the reduced quality should be worth it - but speak to your boss to see if it's desirable.
    – SPavel
    Mar 16, 2017 at 20:54
  • yea, maybe. And I am thinking then - why star like Robert Martin says tests should cover 100% of the code. Because we then save time, by not needing to test manually. On one hand it makes sense. On other hand - maybe for a function which shows a simple list of items, even if it will not work, there will be nothing super bad, of course depending on the function. PLus also I am thinkng - why I learn things if I do not apply what I have learned? Today was example - one guy code said in code review to refactor. What he said was making sense. It took for me 1 hour, 20 minutes to refactor Mar 16, 2017 at 20:58

Yes, it can be done. Sometimes. However, it has to be done in the right away. Otherwise, it is career suicide as Gnasher729's answer says.

I know that it can be done because I know of a case. My father was a Salesperson who did work for multiple companies. One company said they couldn't keep him (or maybe had to cut his per-per-hour), for budgetary reasons. Now it turns out that Dad and his work liked each other. So he pitched still being paid the same per hour, but trimming down to about 40 hours per month instead of about 160. Both sides were happy.

The key is that you have to figure out what makes both sides happy. Simply saying "I want less money" indicates that you are not following the traditional path of continuing to be focused on trying to improve your worth to the company (perhaps simply by improving certain skills). Displaying such an attitude may be very scary to the company, and therefore does not serve the company's interests well.

I do know of other cases where people have said they want fewer hours, which may mean switching from full-time status to part-time status. Most companies don't view this as something particularly positive for the company. Employees tend to have a cost, which might be more than just a bit of overhead by administration. For instance, ongoing costs can include communicating policies per employee. If employees work fewer hours each, then more employees would be needed to fulfill those hours, which can mean having certain costs be higher.

Some companies are very tolerant of such changes, as they view the costs as rather minimal and they want to accommodate because they want employees to be happy. Other companies may really dislike the idea, even to the point of having an established policy forbidding any part time staff members (at least for certain positions, possibly having exceptions for certain other positions like cleaning crew). So this is why I said "Sometimes." Your options can vary based on details like how good your proposal is and what company you work for (with company's culture being a huge indicator).

Before pitching any proposals/demands, come up with some ideas of how a situation would work very well for the company, and ask some general questions. If your company's administration will judge you for simply contemplating a disfavored idea and asking the question of "Is this even an option?", then they'll judge you even more if you start by saying "I do want to proceed with this."

Once you decide a change will be favorable, consider how much you're interested in negotiating. What will be tolerable? (For instance, if they are willing to lower your hours, but only to the amount of 15 hours per week, does that work for you? You don't need to have final decisions about every possible scenario, but thinking about various possibilities and having some rough ideas on what seems good to you, and having that considered ahead of time, may be helpful.) Expect that things might not go as planned, but some negotiation may be possible, so plan on being prepared to have enough flexibility to consider different ideas.

Also know that if your idea is accepted, chances are quite good that you may not get an answer instantly (or even within a matter of weeks). Even if you're turned down, the company may remember this, which may be bad (if you are thought of as having "outsider" views), or good (if an opportunity comes up, they might even approach you to see if you're still interested).

  • Yea, I agree, it might look that I do not want to improve. But I kind of feel I have lost hope in improving, because I already have tried it, I said - I have even read a book about productivity and applying lot of things. Also I understand that there is overhead when having part time worker. So because of overhead cost, I am ready to pay for it too - reduce hourly. Mar 17, 2017 at 17:20

Unless your boss has explicitly complained about your productivity, I wouldnt worry about it. It sounds like you are a fairly recent employee, and if they are reasonable at your workplace, they probably dont expect you to be as productive as highly experienced people, like your boss.

  • I am not so recent. I am working since like 2011 or so, so its like 6 years experience. With such experience, some people like my friends ask for highest salaries in the market. My friend also said to not worry, but after I was fired from 2nd time for low productivity, I do not think I can be calm without changing something. Mar 16, 2017 at 20:17

Don't ask for reduced salary. Find the root cause of your productivity issue and work on fixing it. Just like finding the bug in your code. What is the reason why you are not productive? Distractions in the office? Can't focus? Wandering thoughts all day? Asking for lower salary is not fixing the root problem and that problem will follow you to every job.

  • Past days I am able to focus on work very well I think, I pay little time to distractions. I am trying to find a cause long time, without success :( I am often thinking, maybe I am stupid, and there is no way to fix it :( Mar 16, 2017 at 20:44
  • Why do you think you are stupid? Are you just slow at writing code? Or do you have trouble thinking up algorithms and functions?
    – John K.
    Mar 16, 2017 at 20:47
  • I am definitely not slow at typing. My fingers work well, I had even played music instruments, so I do not doubt in my fingers. I rarely look at keyboard. No need to even thing about algorithms, I struggle to finish on time even simple tasks as fetching a simple list of items from 1 database table. I do it, but I almost always miss deadline. Same with algorithms - I am able to solve complex tasks, but as always I get complaints that its taking long. I consider I am stupid because no matter how hard I try, I do not make it on time and do not find a way to fix my productivity. Mar 16, 2017 at 20:52
  • Well if you are able to create a working solution, then you're not stupid. You just need to narrow down what is causing you to be slow and work on fixing that.
    – John K.
    Mar 16, 2017 at 21:00

If you have been in the industry for 6 years and fired from 2 jobs for being unproductive and thinking the same will happen in your current job you really need to look at working on your own time if you can't be more productive. . Either freelancing, or having your own product.

Or get a government position.

  • how do you know that in my country government positions do not require productivity? I guess it is true, but I also heard that new young people come to government and they start to require more and firing unproductive people. Mar 17, 2017 at 5:53
  • 1
    @Will_create_nick_later Worked in many countries, the skills required for govt jobs are different, and productivity isn't the highest among them. Pressure and accountability are different as well. It's usually a lot harder to fire someone from a govt job for example. Plus they usually have a union.
    – Kilisi
    Mar 17, 2017 at 6:43

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