In another sign of a national job market that is recovering, employers are once again lining up for the chance to recruit and hire Minnesota college students. And for the fifth year in a row, they won’t have to leave home to do it.

On Oct. 14, the Minnesota Private College Council is hosting a virtual job fair, where job seekers and recruiters can meet and check each other out online.

The event, which is open to students and graduates of the group’s 17 member schools, has become an annual tradition since 2012.

“It’s been a great way for them to introduce employers to their students and alumni,” said Gayle Oliver-Plath, whose Atlanta-based company, CareerEco, runs the virtual job fair.

How does it work? People sign up in advance to take part in live online interactions (from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.) on the day of the fair. Both sides, though, have a chance to check each other out ahead of time.

The companies can post job openings and information about the kind of candidates they’re seeking (liberal arts majors, for instance, or perhaps computer scientists).

And students can upload their résumés and click a button to show they’re interested.

The fair is free for students and alumni; only the companies pay a fee (ranging from $295 to $2,000, depending on how much of a splash they want to make on the fair’s website).

Many ways to chat

In some ways, says Oliver-Plath, the virtual option can be more personal than the old-fashioned kind, where everyone crowds into the same room.

In that case, Oliver-Plath notes, job candidates often must wait in long lines for a few fleeting moments with a company recruiter.

But online, she said, they can communicate the way they prefer, in personal messages, group chats or live one-on-one interviews.

She also tells employers that this is a great way to reach a generation “raised on the technology of chatting.”

During the recession, Oliver-Plath points out, many employers cut back on recruiting fairs. So she saw an opportunity, when she started her company in 2009, to make the whole process cheaper and more efficient for companies and job applicants alike as the economy recovered.

Since then, Oliver-Plath says, “campus recruiting has really recovered. The job market has become competitive again for college-educated talent.”

Already, Geico, Thomson Reuters and the Las Vegas school system have signed up for next month’s Minnesota fair, and she expects more than 50 employers to participate, in all.

A separate virtual job recruitment fair for students at Big Ten schools such as the University of Minnesota is usually held in the spring.

For more information about the virtual job fair, visit