It’s time for another Registered Dietitian Spotlight! This week, I’m talking to Cindy Krainen, who has a very non-traditional RD role as a recruiter with Harper Associates. Many of you may already be familiar with her if you’ve been on the hunt for a job in dietetics or are a member of the Dietitian Jobs Network group on Linked In.

First Cindy, can you tell everyone a little about your background, your path to becoming an RD and how you landed the position you have now?

As soon as I read the first question about how I got to where I am, I realized that my answer is going to sound pre-historic to most of you because the path I took is now extinct.  I graduated with a BS degree from Michigan State University (Go Spartans!), got married immediately after and relocated to St. Louis, Missouri as that is where my husband had found work as a Speech Pathologist. I was unable to obtain a traditional internship there but after a few months I landed a job as a Diet Tech with a large hospital system. One of the luckiest things that EVER happened to me was that the hospital offered to sponsor me for a 3 year pre-planned Dietetic Internship, which I didn’t even know existed (and it doesn’t anymore).

I gained excellent experience working underneath several great RDs and spent the 3rd year as a Food Service Director in one of their small hospital accounts.  Before I knew it, the program was over, I passed my exam and we relocated back home to the suburban Detroit, Michigan area.

Then I worked in a large hospital as an Administrative Dietitian. It started out as a temp position but I ended up staying three years. After I had my first child, I realized I would not be able to find a day care center to accommodate my schedule. I was working varied shifts in a large food service department, coupled with a long commute. I was determined to find a job I liked with better hours and knew that after six years working in hospitals, I was better suited for something different. Again I was struck with good luck and again I’m letting you know how ancient I am, because I found my job through the newspaper classified ads! I joined Harper Associates 20+ years ago and I’m thrilled to say I am still here and even after all these years I looking forward to coming to work every day.

Very cool story– just goes to show how many opportunities we have as RDs. What’s a typical day for you like?

Harper Associates is a long standing recruitment firm and I specialize in placing dietitians throughout the U.S., representing any employer who would like assistance finding RDs for permanent positions. My typical day is somewhat consistent, yet I never know who I will be speaking to next, perhaps a Pediatric Dietitian one minute, then a CEO of a well-respected food company the next minute.

I never have any idea what job I might be working on next and I still get excited each time a new  job opening is presented to me. Things have changed drastically over the years but most of my day is spent corresponding with people via email or phone. Even most of our clients prefer email as our main method of communicating. It’s hard to believe that for the first part of my career as a recruiter, there were no computers. Try to imagine a job search without one now! When I’m not responding to calls or emails, I am seeking out dietitians who may be considering a job change to see if they match the needs of one of my clients. Another thing I do during the day is continuously maintain a group I started a few years ago, Dietitian Jobs Network.  The group currently has 14,000+ members and the purpose is to provide job leads for RDs. I think it was one of the first RD linkedin groups of its kind and one that encouraged dietitians to write a few sentences about what they were seeking and where, in case another group member had suggestions or leads. I also spend time writing ads, job postings and other marketing materials.   I spend about 9 hours/day at the office, go home, make dinner for my husband (yes the same husband!) and/or family (I’m an empty nester most of the time) and then I get back on the computer! Yes, it’s an addiction for me. I do try to go to the gym a few times/week but I’ll admit it, for me it’s a struggle. With the extreme winter weather we’ve had in Michigan this year, the last thing I want to do is go back out again once I’m home. I do love to bake in my free time. I also love fun projects, for example, I’m planning a Valentine’s brunch in a few weeks which allows me to express my creativity. Pinterest here I come!

On a not so typical day, my position has given me the opportunity to do some exciting things, including hosting a booth at FNCE, giving presentations to various groups including dietetic interns or local dietetic associations. I have also had the privilege to have been interviewed for various professional articles in Today’s Dietitian and JADA. Our agency specializes in the hospitality industry as well, so over the years I’ve attended many fun gourmet dinners, restaurant shows, etc.

Cindy with Robert Irvine of Restaurant Impossible at FNCE 2013 in Houston, TX
Cindy with Robert Irvine of Restaurant Impossible at FNCE 2013 in Houston, TX

What got you interested in nutrition in the first place?
I’ve always been a very practical person and it sounded like the type of field that would be useful in everyday life, instead of just while on the job, which definitely proved to be true.

What is your favorite part of the day?
I really love when I’m able to help a dietitian with their job search.   It could be as simple as finding a typo on their resume they didn’t catch even after proofing it ten times or leading them to a relevant Dietetic Practice Group or association they weren’t aware of. The best possible scenario for me is talking to a dietitian on the phone and realizing that the job they are seeking and qualified for is exactly the job I am trying to fill.

What is the biggest challenge for you?
I’m unable to help every dietitian who comes to me for assistance finding a job. I have many more dietitians looking for jobs than the number of open positions I have available at any one time. Many people that come to me cannot relocate so unless I have the perfect job in their area, there isn’t much I can do. This is why I created the group; I felt it was a way to help, even if all the jobs were not ones our agency was handling. 

Do you follow any certain diet?
Definitely not.  I am not a great RD role model, especially when it comes to sweets.  In some ways I feel that I left clinical dietetics because I couldn’t practice what I preached!

What is your favorite thing to do in our city?
I live in the suburban Detroit area and I love to take advantage of our warmer weather seasons by taking a walk on a nature trail overlooking a local lake, going to art fairs and cider mills.

What was your favorite or most memorable meal?
This question made me laugh because I can’t remember what I ate but it was the spectacular setting at sunset at the Bil-Mar restaurant in Grand Haven, Michigan, overlooking Lake Michigan, many years ago that I will never forget. But if you want a food answer, my favorite splurge meal has to be Chicken Madeira at the Cheesecake Factory. And no, I don’t typically require cheesecake after that delicious meal. This used to be my favorite restaurant and meal when traveling so I’m a little concerned about my willpower now that they finally opened a restaurant in my area.

What’s your top nutrition-related tip?
Since I don’t practice dietetics in the traditional sense, I really don’t give out nutrition advice.  But I do suggest nothing in excess, regardless of what it is.

Do you have any advice for someone whose interested in becoming an RD?
To someone still in the consideration stages, just be sure you realize there are requirements following the Bachelor’s degree and they are not always easy to attain. Also know that the salaries may not be as high as one might expect for the education and training required. It is, however, a wonderful career for those who have a true passion for nutrition and dietetics and it offers an incredibly wide variety of job options within the field.

If you’re searching for an RD position, be sure to visit and check out the Dietitian Jobs Network on Linked In!  You can also contact Cindy at Thank you Cindy for showing us a whole new career option for RDs!