How to Circumvent Gatekeepers Using Voicemail System Features
Gatekeepers are the Cerberus of the recruiting industry. Their
job is to allow the properly associated souls to pass, while
turning back the rest of us at the gates.
Many articles have been written about how to
approach them, what to say to them, and even about forming
long-term relationships with them.
While administrative assistants are usually the most
difficult gatekeepers, receptionists can also be
protective, asking your company and reason for calling. Even
when receptionists are obliging, after speaking to them 20 or 30
times a day, they will start to recognize your voice.
Calling late to reach an after hours “auto attendant” feature
that clicks over after 5:00 p.m. is used by some as an alternative.
The problem with this is that the person you are trying to contact
may have gone home, forcing you to leave a message.
The solution has typically been to find an extension for
someone at the desired company, and then sequentially dial other
extensions until you find the person or group that you are
looking for. While this technique can work, it is very
time-consuming and impractical in the extreme at larger
companies. Also, many companies are aware of this tactic and
will assign extensions in a more arbitrary manner.
Fortunately there is a way to directly contact almost anyone
at any company, using little-known, but very useful
features built into voicemail systems. Below is a brief
summary of my findings.
All voicemail systems have the ability to transfer from
person to person and reach automatic phone directories.
Many of these will also give out extension numbers that are
easily turned into direct dial numbers.
The first thing you need to do is get a direct dial number.
Almost any one will do. This can be done different ways. The
easiest way is to compare an office’s phone and fax numbers.
If they share the same suffix (i.e. 415-989-3800 and
415-989-3801), then try dialing something around that number,
like 415-989-3822. If you get an error message, don’t worry; I
will address the issue of finding a direct dial number
near the end of this article.
Once you get a valid extension (it’s key that no one
answers, you must get a message), then you have
everything you need to get started.
Every voicemail system is different, but certain keys on
your phone will bring up different options in different
voicemail systems. The first keys you should try though are
the “*” key and the “#”. Try pressing them while you are
listening to the person’s greeting message (always before
the beep!). Your results will be different, depending on the
voicemail system. For the purposes of instruction, let’s
assume they have an Audix
system can be recognized when you hear the message “Your call
is being answered by Audix.” There are exceptions to this
rule, but it is easy to confirm this particular system. Before
the beep, quickly press * and then 8 on your phone. If you
hear the message “Enter the four digit extension and pound sign,”
you are in an AudixTM system.