Career Success Hack: Use a Zoom Background

By: James Flippin · May 30, 2023 · Reading Time: 3 minutes

Polished Image

Not too long ago, some tricks to giving off a polished image at work may have been showing up early, dressing professionally, and extending a firm handshake. But these traditional cues don’t exactly translate to remote workplaces, where interaction is largely limited to virtual channels like Slack (CRM) or Gmail (GOOGL).

Instead, the biggest career decision you’ll have to make these days might just be picking the appropriate background for your next Zoom (ZM) meeting.

That’s only a slight exaggeration. In a new study conducted by the Wall Street Journal (NWSA), 53% of people surveyed stated they form impressions of others on video conference calls based on their backgrounds. And 83% suggested considering your background is important to your image. Which begs the question: what type of Zoom background is the most professional?

Surprise Findings

The study found people overall prefer to engage with those who use fun backgrounds on calls.

Typically, when picking backgrounds in a professional setting, most workers usually opt for non-revealing backgrounds. Most employees apparently assume this will make them seem more competent or buttoned-up.

But evidently, choosing a fun background actually makes you seem more friendly and sincere. Plus, picking something more personalized like a soccer or musical theme can broadcast interests you’d have less of an opportunity to talk about in a remote work setting, and help to keep the digital conversation flowing.

Choosing Your Background

Using a fun or revealing background can be especially impactful if you’re in a consumer-facing role, like customer service. It can humanize what is typically a faceless transaction and help you to smooth over stressful or intense interactions.

But, remember, not all video backgrounds are created equal. For example, a view of a messy room might reveal an authentic part of your personality, but not necessarily the one you want to share with customers or coworkers.

And, of course, you’ll want to consider the context of the call. If you’re hopping on a Friday end-of-week wrap-up, it’s probably okay to have some fun. But if you’re joining a high-tension emergency response meeting, it might be better to skip the theme and get down to business.

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