Jeff Jardine

Job hunt turns up intriguing prospect

One of the things they tell you is to always keep your options open.

You never know when something might go south at work. You could get lopped in a round of budget cuts. Or your job could be outsourced to Indonesia on a CEO's whim.

Consequently, it's better to be proactive than reactive, and that can mean occasionally perusing the employment listings in the newspaper or on the Internet.

One of my co-workers did that recently, and came upon a job opening at California State University, Stanislaus, posted on at

President Ham Shirvani is looking for a full-time aide who, according to the job description, is akin to the White House Chief of Staff.

This is a job for a serious multitasker — someone who will be entrusted with telling Shirvani what to do and when to do it, to do his homework for him, balance his checkbook and basically manage his professional life.

In other words, do all the thinking for the smartest person on campus.

Maybe I'll apply for the job — you know, keeping my options open.

Granted, putting in for that one while I still have this one is like date-surfing on the eHarmony Web site just in case my wife suddenly decides 20 years of marriage has been an absolute waste of her life.

Still, it's better to be prepared.

Here goes, using some exact wordings from the actual posting by the university.

Among the essential duties:

Manage the president's schedule and prioritize a variety of requests involving the president's time.

OK, boss. You've got 15 minutes to finish the crossword puzzle. Do the Sudoku on your time — not mine.

Carefully screen and evaluate all calendar requests, including special meetings and forums, hospitality events, and speaking engagements.

I've got you booked to speak at the Star Trek convention next Sunday in Las Vegas, and you'll be judging livestock at Cal Expo on the 18th. These should be great opportunities for you to promote the university to those who have never heard of Turlock.

Recommend and implement appropriate changes in office procedures to ensure greater efficiency and responsiveness.

We'll be switching offices. I want yours. I mean, if I'm going to do all the real work in this relationship, I'll need my space.

Monitor the president's business expenses for appropriate reimbursements.

Any business trip to, say, Washington, D.C., should always include a weeklong stop in Bermuda. You'll need some R&R after dealing with all of those stuffy university presidents.

Among the qualifications:

Five years of progressively responsible work experience as a secretary, executive secretary, or staff assistant.

I started as a sports copy clerk 29 years ago and worked my way up to columnist without ever having to manage anyone. Can you top that?

Among the specialized skills and abilities:

Must be very intuitive, diplomatic, and highly skilled

Dude, that's me.

in dealing with campus faculty, staff, students, and administrators; Chancellor's Office executives and members of the Board of Trustees; presidents and executive personnel from other CSU campuses, the University of California, the California Community Colleges, and private higher education institutions as well as K-12 representatives; members of the California Legislature and U.S. Congress; Gubernatorial and U.S. Presidential Cabinet Officers; chief executives of major private corporations; foreign dignitaries; foreign ministries of education; ambassadors from the U.S. and foreign countries.

I've dealt with really, really rich baseball and NFL team owners, met a couple of governors, members of Congress, a U.S. secretary of defense (William Cohen), secretaries of agriculture (Dan Glickman and Ann Veneman) and a secretary of education (William Bennett). I also whipped Arnold in arm wrestling. (OK, we merely met here at The Bee and shook hands one day. But I know he was totally intimidated — a quivering wreck.)

And I once interviewed the former Soviet governor of Vladivostok without even creating an international incident.

Yes, I can schmooze with the best of them.

(Possess the) ability to perform standard business math, such as calculate ratios and percentages, track financial data, and make standard projections.

Ham, I do know how to use a calculator. But what are all those funny-looking buttons on the left?

(Has) demonstrated technical literacy with standard office computers, including proficiency with Word, Excel, PowerPoint, electronic mail, and Internet communication software.

I'm good to go with Word and basic computer functions. Eliminating Excel and PowerPoint would be my first priority in making the office more efficient, as you requested.

Really, is there anything more boring than watching someone give a PowerPoint presentation and simply repeating what's already on the screen while the crowd snoozes? We can do much better with a video on YouTube.

(Has) demonstrated ability to draft, compose, and present clear and concise final form correspondence and documents/reports in appropriate format demonstrating thorough knowledge of English grammar, punctuation and spelling, including good proofreading and editing skills.

I've written roughly 5,800 bylined stories in my career, many of them actually decipherable. And as for concise writing, most of my columns are in the 750-word range. Your job posting went over 1,000. A bit verbose, don't you think?

(Has) demonstrated competence in understanding, interpreting, and communicating procedures, policies, information, ideas, and instructions.

Wait a minute — who's running this show? You or me?

There are a few problems, though. The job pays just over $40,000, which would mean a significantly lower salary for a higher workload. And you're not offering a moving allowance.

Upon further consideration, I'll politely decline your offer and stay put.

Meanwhile, I just saw an ad for a bartender school. It claims you can make up to$40 an hour.

Or maybe I could answer the listing to sell paint. Everybody needs paint, right?

As they say, you've got to keep your options open.

Jeff Jardine's column appearsSundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays in Local News. He can be reached at or 578-2383.