I guess there there could be some differences between countries in how companies prefer the layout-, and content of, an application.

In my country we generally have this format of an application:

1. Short info about oneself; age, family, where one lives
2. Very short summary of education , with referral to CV for more detailed information
3. What you have done previously compared with demands for new job, i.e. why you should be a ideal candidate for the job
4. Your positive characteristics; i.e proactive, effective etc.
5. General closing with 1 reference person, and telephone number/mail.

Is this also how it's done in the US?