The majority of high officials in the Nixon-Ford administration have "experienced great difficulty" getting jobs in the private sector, according to a study released yesterday by a prominent Washington executive search firm.

According to a report by Simmons Associates, 62 per cent of the 34 former assistant secretaries and secretaries polled had problems getting a new job due largely to a "bias that business firms have against government service."

Although the survey did not take into account the Watergate scandal and its effect on such job searches, the company's president W. E. Simons, Jr. said it does reflect a "general perception by the private sector that government is non-profit motivated, and encourages spendthrift and spoils programs."

He did say that because of Watergate, the Nixon-Ford years were "not typical administration."

Many of those surveyed said their job hunt laster six months or more. Several said they had to settle for jobs that "fell short of their expectations."

About 70 per cent reported that they were passed over for private sector jobs because it was implied to them that Washington was an "unreal world and that their government experience was of little value to a business organization."

Simmons said most of those interviewed were sure they were enhancing their business careers then they accepted government appointments. He said they were "astonished" to find that it was a hindrance.

One official, former Assistant Secretary of the Air Force Edward Keech, was quoted by Simmons as saying, "There must be an end to this perception of government managers being second best."

Keech, who is now vice dean of the Wharton School of Finance at the University of Pennsylvannia, also said, "Few realize the creativity and diversity required to fill a public sector managerial position."

As of mid-October, when the survey was completed, seven of the 34 officials polled were still job-hunting, while eight had settled into jobs they considered unsatisfactory. Only 55 per cent said they were happy in their private sector positions.

Complaint made by business firms were that government officials weren't "profit oriented," or "greatly concerned about costs," according to Simmons.

He said, too, that employers were fearful that officials had been "spoiled" by "perks" and were accustomed to dealing in "multibillion dollar budgets."

"The minute the word 'billion' comes out in a resume, it scares the heck out of an interviewer who has a $250 million-a-year business and is looking for a guy to run a new division," Simmons said.