A phone extension is a short number, usually between one and five digits, that is assigned to a specific area of a business. It uses the main business number as the source number and then extends to other employees and departments.
Many large businesses with multiple employees and departments utilize phone extensions. This helps the company direct calls to a specific person or business unit and makes communication more efficient. If you don’t know the phone extension of the person or department you want to reach, there are several ways you can find out the extension number.
Speak With the Receptionist
One of the quickest ways to find out the phone extension of an employee at a company is to call the main business number and speak to the receptionist. You can find out the business’s main number by visiting its website. Most companies will list its phone number on the contact page or in the website’s footer.
When you call the company and reach reception, ask for the extension of the person you wish to call. For example, you can say, “Can you please tell me Tom James’s extension?” The receptionist may then give you his extension.
A phone number extension example is "101." The receptionist may also ask if she can connect you with the employee. If you wish to talk to him now, you can ask the receptionist to make the connection using the switchboard. This way, you do not need to enter the extension yourself.
Listen to the Recorded Message
Another way to find a phone number extension is to use a company’s recorded phone number finder extension message. This is the recorded message you hear when you call the main number of a company. Some businesses set up this message so that you don’t need to speak with a receptionist to find the extension. You just have to follow the recorded message prompts to get the extension.
In some cases, the recorded message may list the extensions you have the option to call. For example, the recording may say, “For payroll, press 1. For marketing, press 2. For operations, press 3. For warehouse, press 4. For reception, press 0." You can then press the number that corresponds to the area you wish to reach. This kind of recording is more useful for businesses that do not have many extensions.
Another kind of recorded message asks you to input the first few letters of the person’s name or the department’s name. This helps the database search for the extension and provide it to you. For example, the recorded message might say, “Please enter the first three letters of the employee’s last name.” If you were trying to find the extension of Tom James, you would enter "JAM" using the buttons on your phone, and after that, the recording will repeat the letters and the name to ensure it has the correct extension you need.
Look Up the Phone Number Extension Format Online
Another way to look up someone’s extension is by trying to find it on the company website. Some businesses provide extensions on their contact page for key personnel or customer-facing departments. You can visit the business’s website online and look for the phone extension there.
If you are trying to find the phone number for an employee at the company for which you work, you may be able to find it on the company’s intranet. In many companies, a listing of employees with their email addresses and phone extensions can be found in the company’s internal directory. Some companies also list cell phone numbers and alternate phone numbers for employees.
- To save the extension in your cell phone, enter the main number, then "+" and "#," followed by the extension number. On many cell phones, this adds a pause between the main number and the extension number. Check your user manual for your phone's exact instructions.
Anam Ahmed is a Toronto-based writer and editor with over a decade of experience helping small businesses and entrepreneurs reach new heights. She has experience ghostwriting and editing business books, especially those in the "For Dummies" series, in addition to writing and editing web content for the brand. Anam works as a marketing strategist and copywriter, collaborating with everyone from Fortune 500 companies to start-ups, lifestyle bloggers to professional athletes. As a small business owner herself, she is well-versed in what it takes to run and market a small business. Anam earned an M.A. from the University of Toronto and a B.A.H. from Queen's University. Learn more at www.anamahmed.ca.