Jerry Nygaard has one word for the current job-hunting terrain: ''jungle.''
For months after this senior manager was laid off from the Chrysler Corporation's Marine Division in Hartford, Wis., he followed the usual path of sending out resumes, scrutinizing the want ads, and calling on employment agencies.
As he tells it, the results were strictly discouraging.
Yet he was convinced he had something valuable to offer the right employer. He concluded that many who might want a management employee of his caliber might be afraid to spread the word about openings lest they be deluged with applicants and pestered by overeager employment agencies.
So he crafted a plan of his own aimed at directly catching the eye of company executives.
His pitch was a display ad, placed first in the newspapers of Milwaukee where he was living at the time and later in the Minneapolis Star and Tribune when he moved here to the Twin Cities. His offer:
''Attention, employers. $6,750 rebate. Hire me. Sales/marketing manager. 20 -plus years of experience . . . Try me 90 days. If not satisfied, I'll refund 75 percent of the salary.''
Explains Mr. Nygaard: ''People like guarantees. It gives them a little more assurance. I figured as long as there were rebates on automobiles, refrigerators , and TVs, why not on a human being?''
Since the ad in Milwaukee drew more ''curiosity seekers'' than solid job offers, the former Chrysler manager decided to offer one additional line in the Minneapolis version: ''This is not a gimmick. This is a sincere effort to gain employment.''
This time Nygaard says he is positively elated by the results. He has heard so far from 13 companies. In all but one case the firm's president wrote the letter. He is now negotiating with two of the companies on specific job offers and says he feels sure he will be employed again within the next few weeks.
Would he advise anyone else to try to same tactic?
''It worked for me, but maybe the second time around it wouldn't work,'' concedes Nygaard. He also confides that he doesn't really expect anyone to pick up on the guarantee. ''I doubt if it's legal and it could cause tremendous bookkeeping problems. Most people have told me that they thought it was imaginative but that they wouldn't hold me to the rebate. But I was sincere.''
He insists he emerges from his job-hunting experience with much more compassion for the job seeker than he ever had before. He vows that when he is once again in the position of hiring people he will never let a resume cross his desk without at least an acknowledgment.
''Nobody knows how lonely and depressing job hunting can be,'' he insists. ''And you never know when you might be out looking yourself.''
''The important thing to remember,'' adds Nygaard, who after surviving his own ''jungle'' experience is now eager to help others in the same plight, ''is that you absolutely have to keep a positive attitude and take everything a day at a time. If you're down on yourself, you can't do a good job for anyone.''