Before the internet became the dominant source for information of all types, job searchers had fewer places to look when it came time to seek out their next career opportunity.

Most employment options were advertised in the classified section of local newspapers, or perhaps in industry-specific publications. In many cases, the Sunday paper would be a major source of job ads, making it so that even a lazy job search limited to a once-a-week perusal on that day was enough.

That, of course, has changed. Classified sections still exist, but most are shells of what they used to be. The internet caused the change, and it's made job searches both easier and harder. What was once a fairly limited process has become unwieldy. Yes, there are job sites that have become the new classifieds, but if that's the only place you look, you'll be missing out on opportunities.

Here are four ways to search for the new job that can push your career forward, starting with the obvious and moving into the more hidden opportunities.

A wrench and a note that says "job search" are sticking out of the pocket of a pair of jeans.

You'll need to use a lot of different tools to find your next job in most cases. Image source: Pixabay.

1. Track the job boards

Following the classifieds used to be easy, since newspapers came out only once a day, but internet job boards are 24/7. You should run searches often, because sometimes getting your resume in fast and getting it on the top of the pile gives you an edge. To keep general track of what's being posted, though, you'll want to set multiple daily job alerts at Indeed.com.

Indeed is a job search site that gathers ads from multiple job sites while also having ads from employers that post directly on the site. It's not going to have everything -- for example, ads posted on Craigslist won't be there -- but it's a solid way to do a wide search.

In general, in addition to daily email alerts, it's never a bad idea to scan as many job sites as you can each day for your search term. That will turn up new ads, or even ones that slip through Indeed's aggregator.

2. Go where the industry goes

While many jobs are posted to general-interest mass-market sites, many industries have their own job repositories. That could mean a dedicated job board (such as journalismjobs.com for journalists) or industry trades. In some professions, a great source for jobs is major trade shows, which often have giant bulletin boards filled with old-school job postings.

In this area, there are different answers for different professions. A technology professional, for example, could search not only industry publications but also job boards on local or regional websites. A teacher, on the other hand, would have national industry publications to search but may also be able to find jobs through state or regional associations.

3. Follow individual companies

Some jobs never make it to job boards, classified sections, or any other easily tracked location. In some cases, the best pace to look is on the careers section of individual company websites.

This can be a tedious process, but it can pay off if you discover an ad before it gets placed in a widely visible location. Make a list of companies where you might want to work, bookmark their jobs page, and check your list at least a few times a week.

4. Be proactive

The biggest secret of finding that next great job, the one that advances your career and begins to make your dreams come true, is that many positions are filled before they even get listed. That means that to get hired you need to be a known quantity to the people doing the hiring. There are a number of ways to do that.

  • Send a resume and a cover letter to the general jobs-submission email detailing why you would be a good fit for the company.
  • Request an informational interview with the person likely to supervise you, should a job come open.
  • Attend industry events where you can make personal connections.
  • Make appropriate connections on social-media sties (generally LinkedIn, but others if an actual personal, not professional, attachment exists).

In reality, this last category is all about hustle. It's a question of making the opportunity come to you before it goes to the public at large. That's not an easy process, but it's one that can pay off handsomely if you put in the work. 

The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.