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I applied to a position at a well established company (with a specific target range in mind). We discussed expected salary early on. When my expectations were quite a lot over their budget they initially passed on moving me forward. Only after a few weeks the recruiter reached back out to explain my salary expectations were too high. That is when I brought my expected base salary range down by about 10% so I can move forward with the interviewing process.

I passed all interview stages and now have an offer pending. Before the recruiter submitted the offer for 'processing' they asked what are my thoughts about the base salary they would like to offer me. I explained that I'd need to see the offer in writing to make a final decision but if possible I'd like the base salary to be a bit higher. The recruiter said she will submit a request and try to ask for it.

Yesterday the recruiter called by surprise, said the offer is processing 'as-if' we never spoke. She explained the initial base salary in the offer and asked my thoughts -- again, I didn't want to negotiate anything until I have an offer in writing. It sounded like she almost expected me to negotiate but I didn't want to do that before having an offer in writing. Plus the offer is a bit higher than glassdoor's high range, which makes me hesitant if I even should negotiate at this point.

My question is, taking everything in to consideration, the initial conversation, glassdoor salary range and this stage in the process (waiting for written offer), should I and does it make sense to try and negotiate the offer?

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    Why is it so important for you to get the offer in writing before negotiating the amount that will be on it? And do I understand that the salary offered works for you? – Tymoteusz Paul Aug 5 at 11:59
  • It is important because the written offer has all the specifics that I can negotiate in writing. Also, it doesn't make sense for me to negotiate an offer that wasn't officially made. – AnchovyLegend Aug 5 at 12:16
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    I... don't think that I follow, what country are you in? I've always negotiated money, benefits, everything else first (usually in a single meeting, or few if needs higher approval) and then we put that into contract for final read through, confirmation and signing. – Tymoteusz Paul Aug 5 at 12:17
  • It's never smart to negotiate and potentially 'agree' to an offer before it was officially made in writing. Talking about a good compensation package and having it in writing are two different things and negotiation typically happens after you have the written offer. – AnchovyLegend Aug 5 at 12:21
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    @AnchovyLegend I'm afraid you have this wrong. Getting a written offer fully approved and signed is a LOT of work and therefore the expectations is that you sign it. All negotiations should happen before. It's perfectly okay to ask up front about every specific details about benefits, corporate policy, stock, 401k, bonus, etc.and negotiate and adjust in any way you like. But once a formal offer is out, a lot of the flexibility is gone. So it's NOT smart wait for the offer, it's often too late. – Hilmar Aug 5 at 13:42
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In my experience, you should have all of the negotiations regarding compensation done before you receive a final written offer. The written offer is the result of these negotiations and there's usually no room for negotiation afterward since the offer has been reviewed and approved by all of the necessary parties.

It stands out to me that you reduced your salary expectations. This may make sense if your initial expectations were out of alignment with the current market, considering the role and responsibilities, geographic area, industry, and your background. However, when you settle into a salary range, you should expect your written offer to be somewhere within that range.

My suggestion would be to look at their base salary offer (along with the rest of the compensation package). Do you believe that it is a good offer? If so, tell them that so they can prepare the final offer for you to sign. If it's not a good offer, tell them that, perhaps have data to back it up, and if they aren't prepared to offer that amount, you need to be prepared to move on.

Do not expect to negotiate after you receive a finalized written offer, especially if you've had conversations about salary and benefits beforehand. Some organizations may send out unsigned, draft offer letters to give you the full details before you negotiate, but this is rare in my experiences. Most of the negotiation happens verbally or over email and the candidate is expected to review the final offer against those discussions and accept or reject it. It would not be in the company's best interest to go significantly against those discussions in an offer letter, especially after investing so much time and effort in the recruitment process.

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