is it cheesy to send a thank-you on animal-themed stationary?

A reader writes:

I recently applied for a job at an animal care facility, and I made sure to note in my cover letter than I’m a compassionate animal (and people) person in hopes that this will show my personality and also put my resume at the top of the pile. If (hopefully when) I land an interview with this company, I plan on sending out a handwritten thank-you note afterwards. Is it too cheesy to write my note on animal-themed stationery if I keep it tasteful? I want to stand out from the crowd, but not in a bad way. What are your thoughts?

I say this as someone who used to work for an animal charity:  Skip the animal-themed stationary. Go with something more professional.

I keep saying that gimmicks don’t work; what makes you stand out is being a really strong candidate.  If you’re thinking of trying something to make yourself stand out that doesn’t really relate to your qualifications for the job, that’s a good sign that you might be going too far afield.

{ 13 comments… read them below }

  1. Karen*


    Not that there's no place for animal-themed stationery…I'd even say that it's work appropriate if you're casually thanking a colleague for something.

    But for a first impression, keep it classic.

  2. Erica*

    One thing to also note is that it's one thing to tell people you are compassionate, it's another thing to show them.

    Just a reminder! I want you to get to use your animal stationery, but agree – definitely not the place or time.

    (I just bought a sheet of goldfish stickers and I don't know where to use them. And yet, I very much want to.)

  3. Anonymous*

    Not saying OP should do the opposite of the advice here necessarily, but this is one of those questions where reading the potential reaction matters more than any specific course of action, IMO.

    If your interviewer is a cutesy cat lady who keeps smiling at the animals through the window behind you during your interview and has cheesy posters up in her office — the stationary is clearly a fit.

    Not so in other cases, perhaps.

    It's the basics that can't be fudged: Send a thank you note that is coherently written on clean paper, etc. But like formatting a resume, so long as you get the vital information across in an efficient manner, bullet points versus dashes won't make or break you.

    To the extent I can agree with AAM, I will say this: If you're doing it because you think it's cute, fine, but if you actually think you'll get a boost from the animal themed paper, even the cat lady would only smile for your effort rather than fully re-evaluate your candidacy in light of new information.

  4. Amy*

    I think it might also make a difference HOW animal-themed it is. I mean, is it juvenile looking with bright colored animals all over it like a 3-year-old's birthday party, or is it an otherwise blank page with just a tiny paw print or something in the corner? There's definitely a different feel to each end of the spectrum.

  5. KellyK*

    I'm with Amy–if it looks like soemthing a three-year-old or a twelve-year-old would love, then it's an absolute no. If it's a subtle pawprint or cat silhouette or the like, and it looks classy, I'd go with it. Anything in between, I'd steer away from just because one person's "cute" is another person's "over the top."

  6. Anonymous*

    Defintely cheesy to use themed stationary; it looks corny and just plain unprofessional. Keep it plain and simple.

  7. fposte*

    The thing is, the person who might like the themed stationery isn't going to turn you down because your stationery's plain, but the person who *doesn't* like the themed stationery may every well turn you down because your stationery *isn't* plain. So why not maximize the percentages?

  8. Jen*

    As the person who wrote in, I'd like to say thanks to Alison for posting my question. Your answer was to-the-point and truthful, which is just what I needed.

    To the readers who commented, thanks for your feedback! Just to clarify, the stationery is on the conservative side, just pastel yellow with small paw prints in the bottom corner, but I can see where it could still be a little gimmicky.

  9. Jane*

    It maybe cheesy or just right to use a themed stationary – and it depends on the person who the candidate will be writing the note to. There is no way to know which case it is before the interview actually takes place, and I think it is rather silly to ask at this point, before the interview is even scheduled.

    If I were considering a gimmick, I would want to know as much as possible about the person and the office – how they dress, what's on the office walls, are there animal- themed disposable plates in the break room? Is mine and interviewer sense of humor mesh well?

    Only after learning all that, on the way from the interview, it is reasonable to consider buying themed stationary for the "thank you" letter. Or not.

  10. Tara*

    I’m with Amy and Kelly. And since Jen said it was on the conservative side and sounds kinda neat, i think it wasn’t too over-the-top. Then again, I do like animals. Also, since that was 2 years ago, do we have a follow-up on exactly what stationery Jen used and how did the other party perceived it?

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