In picking people to run the new president's administration, transition aides can lean on suggestions in The Prune Book, a compilation of the 100 toughest jobs in Washington.

The book includes anecdotes from people who have held the powerful policy and management positions in the various agencies and lists the qualifications deemed necessary for the jobs."These jobs are the Mount Everest of anyone's career," said Frank Weil, a former assistant secretary of commerce who worked with the Center for Excellence in Government to produce the book.

Here are some things transition teams should look at, according to those who have held the positions.

-The assistant secretary of state for African affairs needs stamina: he spends about 25 percent of his time on the road and has a grueling social schedule wining and dining African officials.

-The undersecretary of state for management needs a thick skin: "This is a job where you do not make anybody happy," said Ronald Spiers, who has held the post since 1983.

-The assistant secretary of agriculture for marketing and inspection services should like reading government rules. And learning Spanish is a good idea: he deals regularly with people from Central America.

-The CIA's general counsel should be a "smart, savvy lawyer who's been around," one former occupant said.

The book, released to coincide with the transition to a new administration, was written by John Trattner, a former State Department spokesman in the Carter administration.

The center, which sponsored the project, recruited teams of former government officials who culled the lists of political positions to select the toughest 100 jobs. All the positions require Senate confirmation.

The book's title is a play on words on the government's "plum book," which lists political jobs at the start of every new administration. "A prune is an older, wiser plum," Weil said.

The next president could have as many as 6,000 jobs to fill in a federal civilian bureaucracy that totals about 2.1 million. Trattner said the next president could jeopardize his administration by selecting the wrong people for the 100 toughest jobs.

"The people in this small group are the critical actors in the life of any administration," he said.

While government pay is not as high as that in the private sector, many of the jobs are similar to those held by chief executive officers of large corporations.

Trattner said two of the most important positions in the 1990s will be the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency and the undersecretary of defense for acquisition, the person in charge of procurement. Both jobs involve complicated issues and intersect with private industry and Capitol Hill, he said.