I have always wondered about this particular area of job hunting and never gave it any thought because I just took whatever came my way because I needed to move on, but with negotiating I essentially have 2 questions:
1) Since most companies do offers via phone (i.e. they notify you that they are offering you X position at Y rate with Z perks/benefits) and then give you a letter of offer later on (usually a couple of days after the phone call) how do you negotiate with the company? You do not technically have an offer beyond a verbal one (which is worthless). Can you even risk doing so (i.e. they might say anything but then just offer the second choice the job and decline the offer to you)? If they ask "Do you accept the position?" is it acceptable to say something to the effect of "I need a letter of offer first before making a decision"?
2) Is negotiating even worth it in the overall sense? By this I mean, is it worth even attempting to negotiate if you don't perfectly match the job description/are somewhat under qualified/new to the field/etc. especially when an employer may not even consider negotiating because he/she can just ask the second choice instead? This is what often prevents me from negotiating (i.e. I don't want to jeopardize my chances for the job nor start off on the wrong foot and be looked down upon).