Interview with Oliver from Jobsmart, the German digital platform for recruiting workers from across the EU

In this interview, Oliver shares his thoughts on the importance of the iterative and interdisciplinary development process and continuous user feedback in creating user-centred and innovative platforms like Jobsmart Europe.

Founder Interview
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Oliver Stöcker

As CTO and co-founder of JOBSMART Europe, Oliver Stöcker can look back on an impressive career in which he has worked as CIO/CTO and Scrum Master in various IT companies. His academic background with a Master of Arts in Audiovisual Communication Technologies forms the basis for his specialisation in agile project management and change management. His expertise lies in project management and leading interdisciplinary teams. After work, he enjoys playing basketball with his two daughters.
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Oliver, as a partner and CIO, you and your team are building the Jobsmart Europe platform. What is Jobsmart and who is the platform for?

JOBSMART is a job portal that acts as a bridge between German companies and jobseekers from across the EU. Under the Freedom of Movement Act, every EU citizen is entitled to live and work in Germany.

We focus on the placement of skilled workers for simple jobs. This segment is in high demand as labour shortages in general are on the rise and are increasingly the focus of political and public attention. Our aim with the portal is to respond digitally to this development.

Can you tell us what inspired the vision for the Jobsmart platform and how you ensured that vision was maintained throughout the development process?

The founders of JOBSMART recognised the problem of labour shortages early on. We realised that the pool of available labour in many sectors was getting smaller and smaller, which had a negative impact on our previous projects. This realisation was crucial to the basic idea of JOBSMART.

From my own experience of recruitment processes, I have often wondered why outdated practices are maintained. I believe that CVs are often irrelevant. It is much more important to get to know people personally and assess whether they are a good fit for the company without having to go through lengthy application procedures.

We have incorporated these considerations into the development of our product to ensure that it meets the needs of our users.

Developing a platform from scratch is no easy task. Can you briefly describe the most important development steps from the concept to the launch of the current MVP?

The concept of 'development steps' may seem too linear, as the process often involves dynamic learning, where new insights can influence other areas.

In the early stages, we focused on analysing the market, exploring innovative ideas and drawing inspiration from best practice outside the traditional HR field. A broad perspective is essential to finding innovative solutions.

These insights were then aligned with our product vision. A concrete and visual representation through user journeys was central to this. Discussions with potential customers allowed us to delve deeper into their needs and develop a better understanding.

We then created the technical backlog internally and contracted an external UX design team. We developed a plan to select key features for the MVP, prepare for launch and gather user feedback.

What was involved in prioritising the key features for the MVP?

The focus was on technically essential functions such as search, registration, login and, of course, legal aspects such as data protection according to GDPR and security. Sales aspects were also considered to make the offering attractive to potential customers as part of the go-to-market plan.

How did your team balance the need to deliver a working product quickly with the desire for a well-designed and user-friendly interface?

A well-designed and user-friendly product is at the heart of our approach and has always been a top priority.

We carefully considered what additional features we could introduce. It was crucial that these features were simple, straightforward and not overloaded. From a technical point of view, this should be a clear USP for our product.

Can you tell us how your product team has worked together and what has been particularly helpful in driving that synergy?

We always made sure that the developers and external design team worked closely with the management. It was important that all expectations and wishes were taken into account in order to facilitate a smooth collaboration.

A preliminary design was important from the start, as early visualisation helped to avoid potential misunderstandings and make discussions more efficient.

Tools such as Figma allowed designers and developers to be connected and have access to the same design system and information.

Detailed planning and coordination between the different teams was critical to the success of the project. Through transparent communication and close collaboration, we were able to ensure that everyone was working towards the same goal and working together efficiently.

Any insights or lessons learned along the way that could help other aspiring platform builders or entrepreneurs?

Bring together all stakeholders, including sales, marketing, product design and development. Work in small iterations and enable continuous feedback between teams to respond flexibly and across disciplines to new insights.

Also, invest more in market research, customer research and usability testing to continually refine prototypes and gain new insights. In my experience, this is the most effective way to continuously learn and improve a product.

Beyond the MVP phase, what plans do you have for the further development of the platform to further improve the engagement and satisfaction of the users?

The MVP already gives us the opportunity to get feedback from a broader perspective. We are no longer restricted to presenting our product to a limited audience, but are getting direct feedback from real customers in an open environment where they can freely express their opinions. So far, we have not received any feedback that our team has not already considered, at least in part. However, this feedback has a significant impact on our priorities and forces us to ensure that we respond appropriately.

In order to get a wide range of feedback, we need to step up our marketing initiatives. Content marketing is critical to this, as it allows us to engage with customers we may not have reached before. Our focus is not only on sales, but also on the continuous improvement of JOBSMART.

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Linn, UX UI Expertin und Mitbegründerin von brightside Studio