Put Yourself In Their Shoes
Another approach to finding someone is to think about where you might expect them to be. Consider what was happening in their life at the time. A woman who has just given birth might be with her parents, or in a workhouse infirmary. A man whose wife has died may have asked family to help out with his children. If there was a downturn in a local industry, a breadwinner may have travelled to find work. One man I was looking for was a scholar with his parents in 1861 and a leatherworker by 1881, but I could not find him in 1871 even though I had tried many spelling combinations and looked for all kinds of leatherworkers. It was only when I realised that he was likely to be an apprentice in 1871 that I found him. His surname was mistranscribed and his birthplace was wrong, but I trawled through apprentices called Frederick on thegenealogist.co.uk and up he popped.
If your ancestor had a trade, their younger self may be recorded as an apprentice