I'm in a special situation where myself and 2 long time colleagues have been contracting with a company. After some time of contracting, it was made clear on both sides that the company wanted to bring us all on as normal employees, and this was generally seen as beneficial for all. The process however has moved slow for all involved.

After some delay and waiting on written offers we have received verbal offers over the phone. The person delivering the offers was the team manager, but it is clear that he is not the one deciding the numbers or details, just the messenger. He asked for thoughts on the verbal offer, and I gave positive feedback, but also that I'd like to wait for the full details in a written offer to consider it and discuss it further with my wife. The tone was that it was positive but that waiting for a written offer is the next step.

The offer was good but needs some negotiation, which due to our relationship with the company will probably be allowed. The problem is that the written offer has been delayed, and I'm worried whether I should have been more vocal initially in stating I needed a higher number. I am also unsure on who to send the negotiation to since the person who delivered the verbal offer doesn't seem to be a decision maker.

Should the verbal offer be the start of negotiation, or should one wait for a formal written offer that is likely to come, but is being delayed? Should I assume that the messenger of the verbal offer is my point contact, or try to find the decision maker and go directly? Finally, have I missed my negotiation chance since I didn't immediately respond as such to the verbal offer?

  • 1
    My thought is at this point you need to wait for the written offer. You asked for the written offer.
    – paparazzo
    Apr 1, 2015 at 15:54
  • 1
    You ask your contact point-blank when is the best time to work with the company to refine the details of their offer until it's mutually acceptable. Apr 1, 2015 at 16:04

2 Answers 2


Part of the whole Pay and Benefits package is the benefits... how can you seriously begin negotiating for your total compensation without knowing the rest of the package? Once they give you a firm, written, offer letter, you'd be scheduled for an HR meeting (assuming medium to large company) and receive the rest of the P&B package details, at which point you can start salary negotiations.

In my experience (as an employee of a company contracted to the US government), a verbal offer is simply one side asking the other if they would like to come to work. There is nothing binding on either side of a verbal conversation. (In fact, peruse this site for all of the questions that start with something like "I got an offer of $X and now I'm being cheated..."). The verbal part may, if you choose, also give a (very) general outline of your salary levels.

I would not say during a verbal meeting, I will work for 58k per year. I might say I would be interested in starting negotiations in the 50's, but anything serious would have to wait until I see the entire benefits package.

What giving a ball-park range does it enable you to ensure you're not thinking of $65 an hour and them $20. However, please know that I strive to not even give that much information in the verbal part. There is just too much possibility that you'll say $65 and they were thinking $100.

Know your field, know your capabilities, know the economy. Take what you're making now and adjust it. Save the actual salary discussion for the HR meeting you'll get after your written offer.

For now, what you've told them is ... perfect.


Here's a factor to consider...

Once the company has generated a written offer, there's a lot of mental inertia associated with it. It's a pain for them to regenerate it (in many companies it's not just a matter of changing a word doc and printing it), and they may well have to go through another round of approvals.

I would say that there should be few if any surprises in the written offer. It's better to talk to the company ahead of time, and save time all around.

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