How to Circumvent Gatekeepers Using Voicemail System Features

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Now the fun begins. With the keys you just pressed, you can now enter an extension and be transferred to the desk of the person you wish to speak to. After pressing *8 you have the option to press * and then 2 on your phone and you will hear “Enter last name and pound sign.” This will allow you to transfer by spelling their last name.

The real gold behind an AudixTM system is its directory. After pressing *8 or *2, try pressing **6 (two asterisks and a six), and again you will hear “Enter last name and pound sign.” The difference this time is that instead of being transferred, the system will confirm the person’s name and give you their extension. After this it will patiently wait for you to enter another name. With this, one could literally collect extensions for everyone in their voicemail system.

I will provide a link at the end of this article for a reference card with instructions for other voicemail systems, but usually it is a matter of pressing * or # during the initial voicemail greeting and listening to the options it gives you.

Now that you have an extension, let me show you how to dial it directly.

Often it is a simple matter of replacement. For example, if a company’s main number is 650-327-8000 and the extension you have is 78239, then dial 650-327-8239. Other times it may have a different prefix. Take a look at the company’s fax number to see if it will “plug in” there.

Try seeing if it has a contact on its website for investor relations. This phone number will most likely conform to the other extensions.

If all else fails, Google can frequently give you the answer you need. Try searching using the company name and the area code, using the Google “-” operator to exclude the final four numbers of the phone number. Using the above example, you would search for: “XYZ Company” +650 -8000. This will usually yield direct dials for other people at the company that should conform to the extension you have.

The information provided in this article should give you a hint of the power of voicemail surfing to avoid gatekeepers. That being said, there are many, many more techniques and tips for surfing voicemail then we have space for here in this article.

I have made a PDF available on our website that will give you directory commands for other voicemail systems, as well as more tricks and tips, and more comprehensive instruction on voicemail surfing. It is free and no registration is necessary to download it. Just go to and click on the “Voicemail Surfing” link below the “Download .PDF” header.

Please be aware that companies can modify their voicemail instructions and new versions of voicemail systems also appear, so you may need to modify your techniques slightly at different companies or as systems are upgraded.

Grab your phones! Surf’s Up!

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By Gregory Pankow, reprinted with the permission of Electronic Recruiting Exchange
 BlackDog Recruiting Software Inc.
For more five star recruiting tips, click here.