Is self-proclaimed a negative word?

If we write a self-proclaimed Java Programmer in my CV or formal meetings, will it be considered as a negative or positive word?

Can we use this word in formal talks and letters? And where should we use this word and where not?

2 Answers 2


It depends.

'self-proclaimed' means

described as or proclaimed to be such by oneself, without endorsement by others

This can bear a negative impact if you use it contexts such as 'self-proclaimed god-man', or 'self-proclaimed ruler'. But this need not be a negative phrase at all times.

Consider the sentence:

I am a self-proclaimed expert.

This could mean that he is very content with his skillset. It could express a sense of confidence in themselves.

If you really think about it,

It could mean two things:

  1. That you have taken up a status or a title without a second person's consent, or having to hear his opinion.

  2. That you declare yourself to be the best at what you do, which can be synonymous to being proud, or in certain cases, being arrogant.

Generally, you can assume that 'self-proclaimed' has a negative impact, but it need not be true in all cases.

  • Speaking only for myself, I would recommend against identifying oneself as a self-proclaimed expert except in a self-deprecating manner, or in very casual settings. In fact, calling oneself an expert of any kind strikes me as gauche, even if the expertise is demonstrable (as with guru, master, whiz, maven, etc.). I leave it to others to call me the expert in something; for myself, at best I'm a specialist professionally, or perhaps an old hand or a buff informally.
    – choster
    Dec 4, 2017 at 16:03
  • 1
    @choster I agree, but it depends on how you perceive that statement. 99% of the people will think he's bragging about something, or he's over confident, but the remaining 1% may think that's he's just proud of his expertise on the subject. Again, this is just my opinion, but I do agree to your comment.
    – Varun Nair
    Dec 4, 2017 at 16:07
  • Speaking as an experienced hiring manager, if I saw "self-proclaimed Java expert" on someone's CV, I would literally laugh at it. And this is the bad kind of "laughing at." Do not use this phrase on your CV. Dec 4, 2017 at 19:39

Yes self-proclaimed would not be the best way to describe a learnt skill.

Indeed being proficient in Java Programming is a skill, not a position or a role. Proclamations are more to do with changes to situations of importance, changes to law, changes in terms of rulership etc.

"Lieutenant Gerneral Amin appeared today on state television and proclaimed a new era in the country's administration as he will be assuming the responsibility of Leader."

General Amin is the self-proclaimed leader of the country.

On my CV, if there is a skill that I wish to be recognised by the reader but I have no accreditation for that skill then I would describe it as:


While self-taught will have some negative connotations in some fields, it does imply a more accurate level of expertise and positively states that you have given up your personal time and energy to learn.

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