Breakups are never easy — and leaving your employer for a new opportunity can have all the emotional weight of ending a romantic relationship. Whether or not you’re married to your career, Randstad has four tips to help you gracefully leave your job and be in the best position to capitalize on the opportunities ahead.

think two moves ahead.

When you leave a job, your manager and coworkers aren’t the only ones who’ll be curious about exactly what happened — in the long run, future employers will, too. So think two jobs ahead. While you’re understandably excited about your new job, don’t let that excitement make you nearsighted. You’ll likely need a reference from your current employer at some point in the future, and why shouldn’t it be a good one? With a little strategic planning, you can have it all. Make sure you leave on good terms, and try to keep in regular contact with your soon-to-be-former manager via email or LinkedIn.

save the date.

It’s always a good move to set an exact date as your expected last day of employment — and if you want to stay on good terms, the date should be at least two weeks after the date you notify your manager. Besides making it clear that you’re committed to supporting the transition, setting a date can also help you plan ahead. For instance, if you’re on a pension plan with your employer, this is the date from which accrued benefits will be calculated. You should also be aware that your manager isn’t obligated to accept the date you set, and could require you to hand in your things immediately. Plan accordingly.

notify your manager first — before anyone else.

News travels fast, so it’s important you reach out to your manager first. Face-to-face meetings can be emotionally heavy, but if the receptionist tells your manager that you’re leaving before you do, that’s a recipe for bad blood. That’s why the first step in your exit plan needs to be notifying your manager. And unless you work remotely — as in very, very remotely — it's always the best policy to give your notice in person. Don’t forget to ask your manager how the organization would like to disclose the news of your exit to everyone else. In rare circumstances, some organizations may prefer to keep news of employee departures private and postpone the announcement for another time.

reach out to coworkers.

If you’ve given your two weeks’ notice, use some of your remaining time to reach out to coworkers, make plans to stay in touch and add them to LinkedIn and other social media networks. You should also be sure that coworkers know your personal email address. Losing the ability to contact them can make it that much harder to secure recommendations and referrals down the road.

If you take the time to plan your departure, give as much advance notice as possible and notify your manager first, you’ve got all of the ingredients for a smooth transition — with no love lost on either side. Ultimately, companies understand that their best employees may leave for any number of reasons — and smart companies will wish them success even on their way out the door.

If you’re ready to put your past relationship behind so you can focus on something more rewarding, find out how Randstad can help you achieve your goals today.