Once you have chosen to seek the services of an image consultant for yourself or your employees, you should interview several image consultants to determine which one best suits your needs.
Define the Results You Want
After you decide on image consulting services, determine the appropriate setting for an effective consultation. An image consultant can work one-on-one or in a small group setting, make a large presentation, or work with you to utilize a combination of these settings.
It is important to identify the areas of your image you want to improve. If you would like to make changes to your appearance, you may need assistance with your wardrobe, hair and makeup and/or personal grooming. If your employees need assistance in understanding the company culture or the culture of your company’s clients, they may require lessons in etiquette, civility and protocol as it pertains to the particular culture. A member of your executive team may need assistance in effectively communicating. These are just a few scenarios in which an image consultant can assist. For a complete list of the specialties of image consultants, review the AICI Core Competencies.
Determine Your Investment
To determine the value of image consulting services for yourself or your company, you must first decide how you wish to be perceived and then decide what that 'ideal image' is worth to you. Keep that value in mind as you determine how much you are willing to invest in image services.
Depending upon your situation and needs, the amount you spend may vary widely. A range of services from the least investment to the most might be as follows:
- When you simply want to try out image services, engage a consultant who offers an introductory package that allows you to test your working relationship. If you are pleased with the results, you can arrange for additional services.
- When you are looking for more specialized image expertise, expect to pay an image consultant by the hour, plus expenses.
- When your company needs assistance with a specialized project, rates may be thousands of dollars per day.
Fees charged by image consultants vary widely based on the scope of your project, the consultant’s experience and track record, and market demand. Once you determine what you would like to invest, it is that much easier to find an image consultant who can confidently deliver the results you want within your budget.
Locate Candidates in the AICI Membership Directory
To find an image consultant in your area, visit our visit our Membership Directory for their contact information. Once you have identified potential image consultant candidates, verify their qualifications to find the one who most closely matches your needs.
Check the Certification Level
Certification helps you quickly identify an image consultant's level of expertise. AICI assesses and certifies image consultants at three levels as follows:
1. AICI Certified Image Master (AICI CIM)
2. AICI Certified Image Professional (AICI CIP)
3. AICI First Level Certification (AICI FLC)
More information about certification
Choose the Certification Level that Matches Your Needs
To select an image consultant with the right level of expertise for your needs, the following provides an explanation of the three levels of AICI certification.
AICI First Level Certification (AICI FLC) represents image consultants who have:
- Maintained membership in a professional image association for one full year;
- Pledged to follow the AICI Code of Ethics and remained in good standing with AICI and its Ethics Committee;
- Taken and passed the AICI First Level Certification exam;
- Submitted a presentation binder that demonstrates solid professionalism and passes the AICI FLC image and presentation criteria;
- Shown proof of professional preparation and education in the image field;
- Demonstrated a professional appearance and strong personal image;
- Developed a business identity that promotes professional image knowledge and services; and
- Worked with at least five clients.
AICI Certified Image Professional (AICI CIP) represents image consultants who have met the FLC criteria and have also:
- Maintained membership in a professional image association for two full years and served as a leader;
- Submitted a presentation binder that demonstrates a high level of professionalism and passes the AICI CIP image and presentation criteria;
- Shown proof of continuing education at the level required for AICI Certified Image Professionals;
- Maintained a personal image and appearance appropriate for a high-level image consultant;
- Promoted image knowledge through writing, media appearances, and/or speaking engagements;
- Contributed image skills to charitable and/or philanthropic causes;
- Submitted exemplary evaluations from current AICI CIP or AICI CIM members; and
- Worked with fee-paying clients for a minimum of two years (full-time) or four years (part-time) and submitted exemplary evaluations from clients.
AICI Certified Image Master (AICI CIM) represents image consultants who have met all of the aforementioned criteria, and have:
- Maintained AICI Certified Image Professional (AICI CIP) certification for at least four years;
- Served in high-level leadership roles within AICI or other associations, and in community outreach or philanthropic organizations;
- Taken at least 50 hours of training or professional educational courses within the previous five years;
- Maintained a personal image that consistently represents image mastery;
- Submitted a presentation folder and essay that demonstrates professional mastery and passes AICI CIM image and presentation criteria;
- Submitted exemplary evaluations from professional associates, co-workers or peers;
- Submitted exemplary evaluations from clients;
- Maintained an active, successful business presence including marketing, web site and promotional materials for the preceding six years; and
- Created a wide range of professional courses and/or consulting materials and used them to educate clients.
In short, an AICI Certified Image Master is an exceptional image consultant with a recognized brand in the image community, offering skills and experience that equal those of a master coach or consultant in any industry.
Interview Your Candidates
Contact each image consultant and set up a phone interview or arrange a face-to-face meeting, if you prefer.
Take notes during your meeting and be clear about the kind of assistance you require. The more open you are about your challenges and/or needs, the more the image consultant is able to determine if he/she can meet those needs. Find out as much as you can about the image consultant's experience with situations similar to your own. Asking the image consultant to provide examples of when he/she worked with a client with similar needs is helpful.
Find out about the image consultant's specialties, and ask for an estimate of the cost to reach your goals. It is always a courtesy at the conclusion the interview to tell the image consultant your next steps and time line.
When calling an image consultant’s references, it is important to find out if they would work with the image consultant again. Also, inquire about the image consultant’s work habits and professionalism, as well as whether she/he met the expected goals.
AICI membership and certification help you ascertain a candidate’s qualifications. AICI consultants:
- Have been exposed to the best practices of the profession;
- Have demonstrated high levels of expertise in their areas of focus;
- Have shown dedication to offering quality services; and
- Offer access to the latest image-building products and services.
A word of warning: If you suspect an image consultant is dishonestly claiming AICI membership and/or certification, call AICI Headquarters at +1 (515) 282-5500 to verify. Or you may email AICI Headquarters at email@example.com
Hire Your Image Consultant
Congratulations! Once you have found the image consultant who can deliver the services you require, you are on your way to creating an exciting new image for yourself or your business that will enhance your life and increase your personal and/or career success!