(Reuters) – The U.S. arm of staffing giant Adecco SA has slashed spending on paid job boards like Monster.com and CareerBuilder.com and instead drives applicants to its site from free job search engines and social media sites like LinkedIn, an executive said on Friday.

Adecco cut spending on paid sites by two-thirds between 2007 and 2009, from $6 million to $2 million, North American marketing chief Ed Blust told an analyst meeting.

Adecco is working toward a licensing agreement with LinkedIn, he added.

LinkedIn is becoming a primary recruiting channel for employers who want access to employed professionals. By contrast, candidates that come via paid job boards are often unqualified, raising costs for recruiters who have to wade through irrelevant resumes, Adecco said.

“We’ve seen dramatic decreases with the spend,” he said, adding that the decline partly reflected a cyclical decline in the staffing industry. Spending on paid job boards has flattened out this year, but will continue to decline, Blust said. “In the long term, I truly think we’ll be spending less in the future.”

While in 2008, paid boards generated about 65 percent of the candidates Adecco placed in jobs through AdeccoUSA.com, that proportion fell to 20 percent last year. The company is increasingly relying on jobs search engine indeed.com and simplyhired.com, as well as google.com and Microsoft’s Bing search engine.

“There’s value to the paid job boards because of the numbers of people who go there but those numbers are trending down,” Blust added.

(Reporting by Nick Zieminski; Editing by Derek Caney)