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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).

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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?

Most often the written offer is just a formalization of the verbal offer.

You can reach an agreement verbally, and then ensure that what you expected to be captured in the written offer letter is actually present, and that there are no unexpected additions.

If the written offer doesn't turn out right, you can always ask that it be amended or rewritten. If the company isn't willing to do so, you can just decline and walk away.

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.

That depends what you mean by "negotiate" here. Some people use the term negotiate to actually mean "always ask for more".

You should go into a negotiation knowing what you want, what you are willing to settle for, and what you think the company can offer.

If you are offered what you want, there may be no need to ask for more. And asking for more always risks having the offer withdrawn.

Additionally, you have the most leverage in a negotiation when you are willing and able to walk away. If you aren't in that position, you may not have enough leverage to risk asking for more.

  • For my last job, the negotiation process was quite informal, and happened before the written offer. The (in house) recruiter called me to let me know I did well in the interview and they would be extending an offer, and floated a salary. I mentioned that I was really looking for at least $xxx (about 10% higher than the number they mentioned), and they agreed to take that into account. When I received the written offer, it was much closer to the amount I requested. This was a small company (~100 people), and my first time negotiating a salary up front, so I'm not sure how typical that is. – shenles Jul 13 '16 at 17:06

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