Yes this is true, and there is a good reason that you should be aware of. Many recruiters and hiring managers now use an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) to be able to filter out undesirable candidates and quickly find suitable candidates for shortlisting. The recruiter can enter keywords into the ATS and the system will find candidates that have those keywords on their CVs. This system works best with Word and isn’t usually able to scan through other documents like PDFs.
Creative CVs are quite often saved as PDFs, so this will automatically be to your disadvantage as your CV may not show up in a recruiters search. ATS also have other limitations and tables, graphics and images can present problems. Even where your name appears or how your contact information is formatted can affect how you show up in a search.
Even if a recruiter doesn’t use ATS to shortlist candidates and does things the old-fashioned way, a creative CV is not going to give you any advantage over other candidates unless you are applying for a creative job such as a web or graphic designer.
Because you have no way of knowing how recruiters are short listing for the role, it’s best to keep things simple with a tidy, well formatted black and white CV in Word.
Most recruiters, these days, use ATS software and often this software finds it very difficult to read “creative CVs”. Ideally CVs should be submitted in plain format so that they can be easily parsed by recruiting software.
I have seen CVs that come through as completely blank or with key text blocked out because of the sender using a creative format.
You should remember that CVs are searched for using key words and it is important that yours comes up in searches. You can always get creative at the next stage of the recruitment process.
In summary, keep it simple – the purpose of your CV is not to get the job, it’s to get the interview.